[This is an email that I sent to my supporters to help them clarify misinformation that has been spread about me.]
You may have seen the mean-spirited tactics that are being used against me for the 2020 school board race.
As school board candidates, we sign something called the "Code of Fair Campaign Practices." When candidates sign it, we agree not to use "character defamation, whispering campaigns, libel, slander or scurrilous attacks" on our opponents. I was elected in 2016 without using such tactics and I am once again dedicated to running a positive campaign, based on my own record and qualifications.
Thank you SO much for your support. So many of my friends have been eager to help correct the misinformation that is being put out there by a small group of activists in our community that are trying to take over the school board completely. I thought it might be a good idea to give a rundown of some the falsehoods that are being spread so that you can answer them if they come up in conversation or on social media.
The following is a list of attacks that were used against me in a recent mailer, along with the truth about each one so that you can respond. Pretty much everything that I have ever said on any topic is either on my YouTube account or on CVUSD's school board meeting recordings, so it is easy to prove that the caustic mailer was untrue. It's just a matter of getting the truth out.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, one of the main donors to the political action committee (PAC) that funded the mailer is one of my fellow board members, Betsy Connolly, who contributed $850. (She contributed $8600 in 2018 to the same committee that helped get 3 new board members onto the board).
I have been falsely accused of:
1. Censoring the curriculum
I have never voted against any book or curriculum since being on the board. What they are referring to is the book policy where I asked that books that have graphic depictions of child rape have an asterisk placed beside them on the syllabus to give students and parents a heads-up. Surprisingly, we have multiple books that graphically describe child rape scenes in our curriculum.
My position on this was driven by my school counselor intern experience and the knowledge that one in ten students is a sexual abuse survivor. There is a whisper campaign going around that asterisks were an attempt to force religion into the schools, which is completely false. My position on this issue was a professional opinion, not a religious one. No reasonable person, religious or not, believes that putting an asterisk on a book containing child rape scenes is censorship or book-banning.
2. Encouraging parents to leave the district for private schools
This has never happened. If someone tells you this, you might ask them to provide a quote of me saying anything like that. There are recordings of all board meetings and all events at which I have spoken. They won't be able to provide a quote, as I have never said anything of the sort. Again, this comes from the defamatory "whispering campaigns."
Both of my parents were public school teachers. I went to public school. All of my kids went to public school (or are attending). I have never encouraged anyone to leave public school and have always encouraged parents to stay involved in our schools.
3. Bogus accusations of corruption that damage the district
I am not aware of ever making any accusations against district personnel. Those that produced the mailer need to provide exact quotes or recordings. What has happened on occasion is that a district employee or parent has come to me with information regarding questionable practices and I have asked questions about them in open meetings. I am careful not to make accusations, but I feel that I am ethically obligated not to brush aside these complaints, because that in itself would be corrupt.
4. Demanding steep budget cuts & voting against a funding request to offset COVID-19 losses
I am in a 4-1 minority on the board, so I can't demand anything. CVUSD is in a budget crisis that began well before COVID-19. I do indeed think that we need to be cautious with our budget. I believe that our district is very top-heavy and cuts could be made that won't impact the classroom. Yes, I voted against borrowing $25 million when we could have used our rainy day fund instead. There is no reason to pay all that interest, fees, etc. Why do we have a rainy day fund if not for a crisis like this? The interest saved can be used for our children's education. I also disagreed with giving raises that amounted to a $6.4 million increase to our 2020-21 budget. I believe that a financial crisis requires some sacrifice and that pay raises can be reinstated when the budget stabilizes.
5. Political extremism
I am not politically extreme, but my accusers seem to be. I have never taken any position that is politically extreme, so I think the burden is on them to provide evidence and direct quotes when I have ever done anything extreme. They will not be able to find any quotes, as I do not say anything extreme.
One area that I consider an extreme position of those that are smearing me is that they support teaching "gender identity" to the K-5 children. This includes teaching young children that their parents guessed their gender at birth, and the children can now decide for themselves. If a parent feels that they guessed their child's gender, they should share this with their own child at home. It is not developmentally appropriate to teach this to young children at school.
It is also important to me that the individual needs of children with gender dysphoria be addressed on a case by case basis to ensure understanding and kindness of their classmates. I believe every child deserves to be loved, respected and treated with kindness at school. Bullying should never be tolerated.
6. Lack of preparation
I am actually very prepared for board meetings. I spend countless hours preparing for each meeting, which people can see for themselves if they attend or watch online or on TV. I prepare detailed questions regarding agenda items.
I think the point that my detractors are trying to make is that they want me to ask my questions and get answers in a "back-room" way, not in public meetings. I do not use the back-room method because I have found that when the questions are asked in open session, I get the most accurate answers, because open session meetings are recorded. In addition, many of the questions I ask during board meetings come from parents, students and taxpayers. They want to hear the answers directly and transparently. I do all I can to ensure that everything is above board and transparent and thus ask my questions publicly, not privately. This takes a lot of preparation, but I am willing to put in the necessary time.
ONE MORE IMPORTANT ITEM
My ballot designation is "School Counselor / Mother" and my detractors have made a point of complaining about this. California election law allows me to use school counselor as my profession because I hold an active California school counselor license.
I worked very hard to earn my license and, by law, my license gives me the right to use this ballot designation. Those that would try to disparage me and take that away from me are participating in defamation. It is a concerted effort to ruin my professional reputation. I earned my masters in education at Purdue, with a concentration in school counseling. I also worked for a year and a half, UNPAID, as a school counselor at a high school and middle school in order to get the hours I needed qualify for my license. I also worked at an elementary school for many hours as part of my license requirements. I did this while all 5 of my children were home. I was given an award by the School Counselor's Association of Indiana as the "Outstanding School Counselor Student of 2010." Only one student in the entire state is given this award each year.
My experience working as a school counselor, especially with at-risk students, is a foundation for the positions that I take on the school board. Being a school counselor is an important part of who I am, regardless of whether or not I am currently paid to be one. I think that generally our community is very supportive of women who put their professions on hold to be full-time mothers. But even as a full-time mom, I still keep my license active, which means that school counselor is still my official profession according to the State of California.
I hope this has been helpful. It is unfortunate that a few people feel they need to attack me personally and professionally and be untruthful and that some local media outlets have been complicit in the dishonesty. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an honest person that takes my role on the board very seriously. I put the kids first and listen to parents. I love teachers and my children have all received an excellent education in the CVUSD. I am hoping that my friends can help me get the truth out by speaking up on social media and when talking to friends and neighbors.
On that note, it is clear that I will need to send out mailers to set the record straight on these issues. If you can, please donate to help offset this extra cost.
Sandee Everett, M.S. Ed.
Notice: the above opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of CVUSD or any of the other board members.