HANDLING: Hall stands wrong
September 13, 2021
For the past year, the RJUHSD school board has been at odds with district stakeholders, including, but not limited to the teacher’s union, the majority of parents and the majority of students. This has led to a lack of confidence in the abilities of our once respectable board.
Election season did nothing but exacerbate the issues in leadership that began rearing their heads. This eventful election season ended with two new faces on the school board – Pete Constant and Heidi Hall.
Since Constant has been on the board, he has made a few waves. He acts as a check to the board, citing laws that otherwise wouldn’t have been considered and clarifying the board’s actions during their bi-monthly meetings.
Heidi Hall is the member making waves. Unlike Constant, these waves are not through actions at meetings, but rather, Hall’s call to action on social media has been her vehicle for rallying anti-science ‘Re-openers’ through her minimization of the Holocaust and support of harassment tactics.
Hall makes her moves through Facebook pages such as “RE-OPEN Schools in Placer County” – a partisan echo chamber where
opposing opinions on state COVID-19 mandates are met with visceral reactions. Pages like this harbor a vocal minority, but it is exactly pages like this where Hall rallies her supporters – those who oppose Placer County Health mandates.
On these pages, she makes posts comparing those who agree with Placer’s mandates to Nazi sympathizers. She goes as far as to say that those who disagree with her viewpoint are “the same people who would have turned in Anne Frank,” while her supporters are the heroes, the ones who would have “hidden [Anne Frank] in their basements.”
This behavior is nothing new to Hall. In December last year, Hall made similar comments regarding the Holocaust, stating that she never understood “how the Holocaust happened” and that it is chilling to “see it first hand.”
Hall accomplished two things with this post: first, she demonstrated just how out of her depth she is – not only as a public official but as a grown adult – and second, she managed to compare one of, if not the cruelest and brutalist periods of human history to the relatively minor inconvenience of following safety guidelines.
Her December post has since been deleted after religious leaders reprimanded the board. The post also earned her a visit from a Rabbi to teach Hall “how the Holocaust happened.”
However, deleting something does not change the fact that it was posted in the first place. And as our teachers have warned us for years – the internet is forever. And as a public official, Hall’s words are watched by many, apparently more closely than she watches on her own.
Hall’s insensitive posts have in their entirety inflamed local politics in board meetings, drawing organized crowds, some from outside our community, of far-right supporters to the stand to make their ideological pleas to the board. This has done nothing but turn previously informational meetings into battlegrounds of politics and pseudo-science – sparking wildfires of mistrust and childish behavior in board meetings.
The behavior observed at recent board meetings has devolved so far that the new norm is to have police officers in attendance to quell threats of violence.
Hall’s incendiary, propagandistic appeals are dangerous to our local politics and the people involved. ”
Recent board meetings, such as the August 26 meeting, have reached almost comical levels of group hysteria, making time for groups such as the Proud Boys, who threatened to start a fistfight during the session, as well as groups of people claiming the vaccine to be nothing but “Chinese communism.”
This shift in meeting attendance sways in the other direction, as some teachers and those who disagree with the RE-OPEN group have stopped attending – some out of fear of harassment, and others out of fear of losing their jobs.
This has recently reached a head at the September 9 meeting, when the teachers union pleaded for teachers to attend – not to speak, but to have some semblance of representation. The union’s plea comes off the back of teacher burnout, caused by groups such as “RE-OPEN,” which have used teachers as punching bags since the beginning of COVID.
Neither Hall, nor the board, has publicly moved to support teachers in a meaningful way during their battle against these Facebook groups, tending to support the groups rather than the teachers. This lack of support has caused animosity between the RJUHSD board and the Teacher’s Union – a relationship that has been stable in the past and will never be the same in the future.
Hall’s support and usage of these groups have done nothing but undermine this relationship further as her comments have both directly and indirectly supported and given notoriety to those who make harassing comments in groups, such as “RE-OPEN.”
Hall’s incendiary, propagandistic appeals are dangerous to our local politics and the people involved. When she mocks that it is “science [saying] we should segregate,” she isolates and divides the vocal, anti-science minority from the majority of parents and teachers who support science-based mitigation practices.
In a district that preaches the ideals of inclusivity and equity for all peoples, it is demoralizing to think that one of the district’s leaders – one of our leaders – Heidi Hall – is a walking contradiction for the very things she claims to support.
There are many ways to stand up for something. Heidi Hall stands wrong.
Hold Hall accountable.