Lodi Unified School District has reaffirmed its commitment to provide students with a safe and non-discriminatory environment in reaction to recent national activities rooted in hatred.
On September 5, 2017, the LUSD Board of Education passed Resolution 2017-63 titled “Denouncing Acts of Hate,” initially prompted by Vice President George Neely.
Originally, there were two resolutions for the Board to vote upon. The first specifically named hate groups. The latter used more generic terms and was passed by the Board after being reviewed by the district’s lawyers and superintendent Dr. Cathy Washer.
“One of Washer’s main concerns was that we are still a public school district and we cannot discriminate against anybody no matter what their parent’s beliefs are,” senior ASB President Rajan Nathaniel said.
“She specifically cited that she doesn’t want… to put students in danger just because of the people that they’re related to,” senior ASP Vice President Julian Bernado said.
An email on behalf of Washer explained that the resolution was made “in light of the recent increase in hate related violence throughout the country… [and] confirms the Board’s commitment to providing safe learning and working environments.”
The resolution passed with a vote of 6-1 with board member Joe Nava being the only dissenter, arguing that that there are already district policies against discrimination, voiding the need for the new resolution.
“We already have a lot of things in our policies that create a safe environment for students,” Nava said. “You take policy 5145.9 and it gives you a whole breakdown of what the Board does and so forth in helping create a safe-learning environment for all students.”
Board Policy 5145.9 is titled “Hate-Motivated Behavior” and it “prohibits discriminatory behavior or statements that degrade an individual on the basis of his/her actual or perceived race, ethnicity, culture, heritage, gender, sex, sexual orientation, physical/mental attributes, or religious beliefs or practices.”
An additional concern of Nava’s stems from the resolution’s political nature.
“It’s the First Amendment violations and that kind of thing,” Nava said. “I feel it’s very political.”
Both Bernado and Nathaniel disagree with Nava’s vote.
“I understand where he’s coming from, saying these policies are still in place, but I disagree with it because I feel like the resolution brings light to these issues once again,” Nathaniel said. “These issues are still here and we do not agree with them.”
Nava’s opinion on the matter is still final, however.
“You’re talking about hate groups and the neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan and all of that… and I detest those groups,” Nava said.
“Any group that creates a lot of violence I don’t like, [but] I didn’t feel like there was a need to have a resolution on the board… Nothing should have been done.”