Election 2022: Fact-checking viral post in Shasta school chief race – Record Searchlight

The Shasta County Office of Education's Professional Development Center on Innsbruck Drive in Redding.

Officials from two Redding school districts spoke out against the false information contained in social media posts surrounding the Shasta County superintendent of schools race in the June 7 election.

The post, which addresses employees at the Redding School District and Enterprise School District, claims that if leaders there are “threatening” them for not voting for Judy Flores, to contact the “election office.”

Flores, the incumbent in the Shasta County schools superintendent race, is running against Bryan Caples, a political newcomer who has been campaigning against previous requirements of masks in school and other state mandates during the pandemic.

“I can definitively confirm that we have not and nor will we ever take any action against an employee or convince them to vote a certain way,” Superintendent Rob Adams said. “We educate kids.”

The superintendent of Enterprise Elementary School District shared similar comments.

“We don’t discuss anything about campaigns, elections, or politics in any way in the school district,” Enterprise Elementary Superintendent Heather Armelino said. “What people do as private citizens is their business, but it is not something we bring into the school. It is really disappointing someone suggest this is happening. It is absolutely not true.”

Dig deeper:Superintendent candidate Caples’ choppy career marked by outbursts, conflict, absences

Firing or dismissing a district employee is an involved process, Armelino said.

“It has to be severe behavior, like committing a crime, or a gross negligence of their duties, but even then there is a process they go through,” she said. “Our employees have an awful lot of protection.”

The school district will work with staff who struggle and offer support to resolve issues, she said. And there are bargaining units that have contracts with the district that ensure employees receive due process “so even if there is a problem of performance or a disciplinary issue, it’s not going to be an immediate dismissal unless someone has harmed a child or committed a crime,” Armelino said.

Last week Caples at the start of a League of Women Voters candidate forum broke the ground rules he had agreed to and insisted that he be allowed to stand. He then went on to lead confused audience members in the Pledge of Allegiance as the moderator tried to restore order to the forum.

Following that May 3 meeting, a video claiming that Flores would not stand for the pledge went viral.

The league responded by posting a photo in which Flores can be seen standing for the pledge, hand to heart, before the moderator asked audience members to be seated.

“Really, please, folks, would you all sit down?” moderator Susan Wilson asked people in the room.

Most, including Flores, complied with the request.

Wilson continued, “We do not, we do not do the Pledge of Allegiance” before her voice got drowned out by Caples and those who remained standing to recite the pledge.

Addressing the disruption, Wilson said last week had Caples told her he wanted to say the pledge, she would have incorporated it as part of the program.

“It is not distressing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but people were distressed because it came out of nowhere. I don’t know why he couldn’t have said something ahead of time,” she said.

Nada Atieh is a Report For America corps member and education reporter focusing on childhood trauma and the achievement gap for the Redding Record Searchlight. Follow her on Twitter at @nadatieh_RS. Help local journalism thrive by subscribing today! And if you are able, please consider a tax-deductible gift toward her work.

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