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California School District Threatened With $1.5 Million Fine for Rejecting Textbook Referencing Harvey Milk

California School District Threatened With $1.5 Million Fine for Rejecting Textbook Referencing Harvey Milk

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks in Los Angeles on Nov. 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts

7/20/2023

Updated: 7/23/2023

A California school district received a hefty fine after rejecting a new state-endorsed social studies curriculum which includes a textbook containing references to LGBT activist and politician Harvey Milk.
The Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) will be fined $1.5 million after the school board voted 3–2 on July 18 against adopting the state’s elementary school curriculum and the textbook “Social Studies Alive!” for a second time.
The school board previously rejected the textbook featuring Milk, who was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, in May.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the fine in a July 19 statement in which he said elementary students in Temecula are set to begin the school year on Aug. 14, 2023, “without proper instructional materials” and using a textbook published in 2006 in violation of state law because of the school board’s recent decision.
According to Mr. Newsom, the district’s own documents published online suggest the district is out of compliance with at least three separate state laws and frameworks with its current curriculum.
Mr. Newsom said the state will secure textbooks to ensure students in the district begin the school year with access to “up-to-date books and materials that comply with state law.”
Parents in support of the Temecula Valley Unified school board's decision to terminate the district’s superintendent amid controversy surrounding critical race theory and other school curriculum attend a board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on June 13, 2023. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)

Parents in support of the Temecula Valley Unified school board's decision to terminate the district’s superintendent amid controversy surrounding critical race theory and other school curriculum attend a board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on June 13, 2023. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)

School Board ‘Willfully Violated Law’

The textbooks, according to the governor, are part of a standard program approved by the state and have been widely used across hundreds of school districts in California. Temecula schools used the books in a pilot scheme among nearly 1,300 families in the 2021–2022 school year.
That pilot scheme, Mr. Newsom said, received positive feedback among 98.8 percent of parents, educators, and community members.
On top of the $1.5 million fine, the district will also have to pay the $1.6 million shipping costs associated with sending the materials to the district, the governor said.
“The three political activists on the school board have yet again proven they are more interested in breaking the law than doing their jobs of educating students—so the state will do their job for them,” said Mr. Newsom.
“California will ensure students in Temecula begin the school year with access to materials reviewed by parents and recommended by teachers across the district,” the governor continued. “After we deliver the textbooks into the hands of students and their parents, the state will deliver the bill—along with a $1.5 million fine—to the school board for its decision to willfully violate the law, subvert the will of parents, and force children to use an out-of-print textbook from 17 years ago.”

Concerns Over Textbook

Three members of the school board strongly oppose including the book—which mentions Milk in its optional supplemental material—in the district’s social science-history curriculum due to reports that Milk had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy when he was 33 years old.
During a May vote not to adopt the book, TVUSD Board President Joseph Komrosky referred to Milk as a “pedophile.”
However, Mr. Komrosky also noted in a statement that there are other issues surrounding the adoption of the book, including that the district may not have received sufficient feedback from the community in the process of selecting books and ensuring the curriculum adequately addresses the needs of students with special needs.
Multiple parents have also shared their support for the board’s decision, acknowledging that they do not feel comfortable with their children discussing sex or gender ideology in an elementary school setting.
In a statement to NBC News after the fine was announced, TVUSD board member Allison Barclay said it was “devastating to receive news of a fine of this magnitude.”
Ms. Barclay was one of the two board members who voted in favor of adopting the textbook and curriculum.
“Our students deserve the best, and I believe that this new curriculum that was piloted by 47 teachers and 1,300 students is an excellent resource for our district,” Ms. Barclay said. “I am hopeful we can work with the state to come into compliance and avoid any undue financial burden on our district that, in the end, will only hurt our students.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the Temecula Valley Unified School District for further comment.
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Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts

Author

Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.

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