The Riverside County Registrar of Voters has certified the ballots for the 2014 Temecula School Board election, and the results are now official. Huge congratulations are in order for our newest board members, Julie Farnbach, Kevin S. Hill and Sandy Hinkson. These are the three candidates we publicly endorsed and they come to the five member board as an immediate majority. History will show that this election was an important moment in a burgeoning civil rights movement. Children are often the forgotten victims of civil rights violations, and we maintain that every undercover drug sting in schools is a violation of children’s civil rights.
The outcome of this election is a direct result of Operation Glass House, the abusive debacle in which undercover officers from the Riverside County Sheriffs Department entrapped twenty two of Temecula’s children in a fabricated drug sting, nine who were Special Education students, including our autistic son, Jesse Snodgrass. This is precisely the result we worked for, on behalf of Jesse, and all other children who we believe were abused under the watch of TVUSD administrators.
After Operation Glass House, members of TVUSD’s brass responded with behaviors toward its victims that we consider to be inappropriate and offensive. And after Operation Glass House was exposed as a sham in numerous media sources, most notably Rolling Stone (The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass) and VICE (The War on Kids), along with the tireless efforts of our partners, including the Drug Policy Alliance, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, TVUSD did little more in response than to stick its head in the sand. This stands in stark contrast to the response from the powers that be at the University of Virginia following last week’s Rolling Stone exposé involving abuses of students on their campus – penned by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, also the author of The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass.
But since the people who are supposed to be in charge of Temecula’s school children refused to act, the citizens of Temecula forced action upon them from the voting booths on November 4.
In Temecula, school board incumbents have historically gotten a free ride with the voters. Two of the incumbents, Richard Shafer and Robert Brown, first became board members in 1994 and 1995, respectively, and had never been seriously challenged at the polls. The third incumbent, Vincent O’Neal, announced in August that he would not seek reelection, which was a wise move because had O’Neal run, he would have suffered the same fate as Brown and Shafer.
Here is the final vote total:
We have a few thoughts about the election:
- The only memorable accomplishment of Robert Brown’s tenure on the board is that he was one of only three people who were aware that adult undercover cops, Yesenia Hernandez and Daniel Zipperstein, were masquerading as students on Temecula’s high school campuses with no accountability, and entrapping the most vulnerable children. Not only did Brown pre-bless the operation, he sung its praises in the immediate aftermath. “I thought it was great,” he said. “I was glad to see it was happening…I’m sure this sent a message to the rest of the kids.” Unfortunately, part of what Brown was cheerleading included reports of inappropriate undercover officer conduct on campus.
But although (undercover cop) Daniel was in a relationship, that didn’t stop him from admiring other girls, like when, during one lunch period with a view into the dance room, Daniel exhorted about a 15-year-old in spandex, “Dang, look at the ass on that one!”
Daniel informed Perry and Sebastian he didn’t swallow Vicodin, he smoked it. The boys were dubious, so Daniel described how he’d rub off the pill’s coating, grind it to powder, then freebase it off tinfoil. To demonstrate, Daniel popped the pill into his mouth and sucked it, then spat it out and rubbed it on his shirt, explaining that it was now ready for crushing and smoking. “I heard you can do the same thing with heroin,” Daniel said, dropping a hint about his next drug target. The boys didn’t pick up on the bait; they were agog, having learned a new drug-taking technique.
- Julie Farnbach and Sandy Hinkson actively campaigned, and received some endorsements. The largest endorsement, which included heavy advertising and press, came from the Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA), who endorsed Hinkson and Cherlyl Eckard. As you see though, Eckard – who also had the heaviest advertising in this election – only finished 5th in this race, so the TVEA endorsement appears to have had little positive impact.
- Kevin Hill did no real campaigning. He was the only challenger who had no campaign yard signs, and he didn’t even have a website. The only endorsement he appears to have received was from us. But his message resonated strongly with us. And with Hill (a teacher with solid special ed experience), retired teacher Hinkson, and zero-tolerance policy critic Farnbach, our endorsement was based not primarily on non-incumbent status, but on the fact that we strongly believe them to be the right people for the job.
- Shafer, O’Neal and the rest of the board members, (Allen Pulsipher and Kristi Rutz-Robbins) have blood from Operation Glass House on their hands too, as they rubber stamped the expulsions of all students entrapped in Operation Glass House. And in Jesse’s case, even though a criminal judge threw out the charges against Jesse, TVUSD decided to move forward with his expulsion. We filed for a due process hearing to stop the expulsion, which resulted in Judge Marian S. Tulley issuing a scathing decision against TVUSD, and ordering Jesse’s immediate return to school. At 7:00 a.m. on March 13, 2013, only three business days after Judge Tulley issued her ruling, and only 48 hours before Jesse’s return to school, the school board held an emergency session behind closed doors, in which they voted to file an appeal of the ruling. There are many levels on which this appears vindictive and irrational, but here is the most glaring example: The remedy sought in the appeal was to expel Jesse. However, the appeal process is such that it would not have even been heard by a judge until well after Jesse was set to graduate. So the bottom line is that the board voted – in secret – to authorize the use of thousands of taxpayer dollars to try to expel a student that had already graduated.
The local message of the 2014 Temecula School Board election is this: TVUSD is broken, and the citizens have forced action upon the administration.
The national message of the 2014 Temecula School Board election is this: Any school administration that allows undercover drug stings on their campuses puts their students, their school district, and their own jobs at risk.