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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
1 Jul 2023

NextImg:California Teachers’ Union Threatens Local School Board With Legal Action Over Flag Policy

California’s statewide teachers’ union sent a letter June 27 to the Chino Valley Unified School board criticizing its recent decision to allow only government flags on school property—and threatening to take legal action against the board if the policy is not reversed.

The board voted 4–1 June 15 to allow only the California and U.S. flags on school property.

The California Teachers Association—with more than 300,000 members—in partnership with local union Associated Chino Teachers alleges in the letter the decision violates teachers’ right to free speech under the First Amendment as well as a state employment law.

The union also said the district further violated state employment laws because it made a decision that affected the current status quo for teachers without giving the local union proper notice or a chance to negotiate terms.

The letter asked the board to reverse its policy by July 3 or face legal action.

“In the event that the board insists on interfering with the constitutional … rights of district employees, the [union] will pursue all available legal remedies for the district’s conduct, including, but not limited to, filing a suit in Superior Court and/or an unfair practice charge with [the Public Employee Relations Board],” the letter stated.

School district Board President Sonja Shaw told The Epoch Times that administrators reached out to the local union to give them a chance to voice their concerns about the flag policy after it was first introduced on June 1.

However, she said, administrators did not meet with the union until June 28, nearly two weeks after the board voted to approve the policy.

Shaw further stated she considered the letter a “bullying tactic,” and was prepared for any legal action the unions might take.

“They think they can bully us, threatening us with lawsuits,” Shaw said. “I’m not backing down.”

She said she believed the teachers’ unions should be focused on student academic issues.

“This has nothing to do with taking away freedom from a teacher. We all know at a workplace you have limitations and standards,” Shaw said. “[The upset over flags] is a weird push towards things that shouldn’t be their focus, especially when our kids are dealing with learning loss and mental health issues.”

She added that most parents and residents she’d heard from supported the flag policy—and added that the letter was evidence that teachers’ unions were more concerned with pushing their own agendas than actually serving the community.

At the board meeting, Shaw gestured to the American flag and said, “This is why we’re here. This flag unites us all … the United States stands for all of us. A teacher who has to display sexuality in their classroom is a problem for me as a parent and board member.”

The meeting drew nearly 300 parents, teachers, and community members.

Some who spoke during public comment thanked the board for taking the complicated issue on.

“Just as Bibles, prayer, and the Ten Commandments have been taken out of classrooms, we need to hold fast to those standards of equality and not allow a flag that represents a minority of the district population to be displayed in our classrooms or on our campuses,” said one parent. “Many students here have religious beliefs that don’t align with what the Pride flag represents … We are all Americans here … and the stars and stripes represent every single student in the district.”

Others said they were concerned that the policy would make LGBT students “unsafe.”

“This policy is incredibly damaging to our community,” said one high school student during public comment. “Pride flags provide a symbol of hope and safety. It’s a reminder we are not alone in our struggles.”

The issue comes after several local Orange County governing boards—including the Orange Unified School Board and the city of Huntington Beach—voted this year to allow only government flags to fly on official or district property.