Poway Unified to keep next meeting virtual after officials reportedly draw death threats

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POWAY, Calif. – The Poway Unified School District will hold its next board meeting virtually after the district’s superintendent said trustees have received death threats from protesters and “stacks of manifesto documents” delivered to their homes.

The body unanimously voted Monday to meet remotely for its Nov. 18 session, citing a California law allowing them to do so when conditions of meeting in person “would present imminent risks to the health and safety of attendees.”

Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps said trustees have been under fire for weeks. That includes prior to an Oct. 14 virtual meeting when the Union-Tribune reported five people were refusing to leave the district’s lobby.

Two people ultimately were arrested for trespassing after police were called, the newspaper reported.

“Board members are also receiving death threats to them and their family members,” Phelps said during Monday’s special meeting, “and the latest as of this morning, one of those that were arrested chalked up the front of the district office, came to the district office in the early mornings when it was still dark to graffiti the district sidewalks and one of our schools, protesting at one of our high schools.”

School boards nationwide have found themselves in the middle of the country’s hot-button political issues ranging from COVID-19 mitigation to the teaching of so-called critical race theory, among other issues.

In September, another Poway Unified meeting was disrupted by protesters from the parent anti-mask advocacy group Let Them Breathe. During the meeting, protesters were reported as being verbally abusive to staff members and using “threatening language,” according to San Diego County School Boards Association President Darshana Patel. That meeting was adjourned prior to its scheduled conclusion.

“They pushed their way to the district office,” Patel told FOX 5 last month. “They weren’t supposed to be there and took over our public board meeting chambers.”

Phelps said the district hopes to open its meetings “as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

The Nov. 18 meeting starts at 6 p.m. A livestream of the meeting will be available here.

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