TRACY, CA (KTXL) — Parents and students of the New Jerusalem Elementary School District told FOX40 Wednesday that they are fighting for accountability, transparency and the immediate suspension of a top educator in Tracy.
The calls for action come weeks after the district superintendent and his wife posted what parents said were messages inciting violence.
The parents and students said they represent at least 1,800 families who have signed a petition calling for the removal of New Jerusalem Elementary School District Superintendent David Thoming.
Parents told FOX40 they want answers from the school board.
“It saddens me more so that it seems as if none of the adults are taking accountability,” said parent Pam Houston.
Their ongoing work was the result of a post that was reported by FOX40 on June 26.
The message on the superintendent’s wife’s Facebook page said, “So rioters you say country boys are next. You do realize country boys will sit 30 feet up a tree all day just to kill something.”
Superintendent Thoming commented on the post through his account with a drawing of an armed man.
Educators released the following statement condemning racism and violence and vowing to review the circumstances:
Parents said the post was one of many concerning actions, including Thoming’s decision to reopen school campuses against the advice of public health officials due to COVID-19.
“He opened the school about a month or two ago, against her direction,” said parent Kim Ruiz.
They also shared a direct message from the superintendent’s Instagram account to a student which is a violation of the school district’s guidelines.
“Why is he not following his school’s code of ethics?” asked Ruiz.
Thoming sent FOX40 the following statement:
“Mrs. Thoming is a parent volunteer who, along with other parents, students, and staff members, raise funds through the parent/student organization of Delta Charter High School called The Dragon Club which go to benefit the students in ways such as purchasing class t-shirts, athletic equipment, sports awards, etc. Similar to a Parent Teacher Club, the Dragon Club will often contact staff members and students regarding upcoming events and fundraises. All fundraising activities that take place in the district are audited annually by state approved auditors. The school provided students the option to come on campus for a three hour period of time during what would have been the last week of school. The purpose of this time was for students to be able to pick up their personal belongings and meet with their teachers to talk about their academic progress. This action was completely cleared by Dr. Maggie Park, San Joaquin County’s Public Health Officer. All guidelines provided to us by Dr. Park were followed to the best of our ability. Just yesterday we sent out a letter to all parents stating that we will be following all state and county health guidelines if we are able to reopen in August. As for me contacting students via social media, I’m not sure what they are referring to. Thank you for the opportunity to respond.”
Ruiz said she not only speaks for herself, but she speaks on behalf of educators living in fear of retaliation.
“Many staff members have been threatened with the same thing if they don’t like something that’s going on with the school, their voice is immediately taken away,” said Ruiz. “We don’t have an agenda other than please, acknowledge our students, acknowledge the staff members, acknowledge what we’re asking for.”
Along with Thoming’s suspension and more transparency from the board, parents are also asking that staff undergo diversity training.
FOX40 reached out to the school district and its board and have not yet received a reply.
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