Christina Kishimoto Gets the National Media Attention She Craves

We’ve been talking about how often the *national* thingy has been popping up in Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s pronouncements and writings. It looks like she is getting exactly what she craves: national attention for Gilbert Public Schools. In this case, she should have followed John Oliver’s advice and asked herself, “Will this go well for me?”

Here’s some of the national media coverage that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto finagled:

Arizona school district defends pro-abstinence, anti-abortion stickers in Biology textbooks: A Phoenix-area school district is defending its decision to place pro-abstinence, anti-abortion stickers in its biology textbooks, following complaints from pro-choice parents. Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has argued that removing the information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what was missing. “We can’t just ignore one side over another,” Ms. Mahoney-Paige told the paper. “There were people who thought were weren’t compliance [with the law]. Now, there’s no argument.”

Why there are antiabortion stickers on science books in Arizona: Sex education is not mandatory in Arizona schools, but if it is taught, schools are required to stress abstinence over contraceptive methods. Arizona ranks second in the nation in regard to teen pregnancy, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona.

School District Puts Anti-Abortion Stickers on Textbooks: Arizona’s Gilbert Public School District, which months ago was contemplating redacting mentions of abortion in its biology textbooks, has instead created textbook labels that caution students against having sex or abortions. Irene Mahoney-Paige, the district’s director of communication, told Cosmopolitan.com via email that “stickers were given to the department chairs, some schools have students putting the stickers on while other schools have students turning their books into the bookstore manager who is then putting the stickers on. The stickers are going on the inside of the back cover of all Biology books.” She said, though, that “there is no punishment if students do not use the sticker.”

A call to the school district yielded very little information. Monica Baxley-Ortega, administrative assistant in the school district’s PR office, told Jezebel that she didn’t know if the stickers were real or not, but did say that such a sticker had been discussed during the spring semester and that she guessed that “they just went ahead with it.” She’s promised clearer information on the sticker’s status; Jezebel will update as it becomes available.

Trying to control this bad national press, Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto released a statement that most national media includes in their coverage:

“I worked closely with the Governing Board to provide a solution to last year’s matter regarding the District’s biology books. The board and I have full confidence in our teachers, and because we trust the way our teachers instruct, we agreed that the stickers on the back cover are the best course of action. We are pleased with the collaboration and completion of this matter.”

That’s a problem with that *national attention* thingy that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto craves: Google makes sure the media coverage is forever. Now, that’s pretty darn inconvenient, to say the least. Actually, those old media articles tell us more than GPS ever wanted the public to know.

The issue is no longer just bad national press coverage, now GPS has a problem with violating Arizona’s Open Meeting Law (OML) AGAIN. We’ve been watching closely since this Governing Board did not hold a public meeting to vote, discuss or decide on placing stickers in the back of these books. In fact, local media highlighted that the board never voted on this matter.

Gilbert board on biology textbook redaction: nevermind.  Although it did not take a formal vote, the Gilbert Public Schools governing board on Tuesday decided school staff does not need to edit biology books that mention abortion after all… Kishimoto told the board in a Nov. 18 report that she thought redacting the books would just encourage students to seek the information elsewhere — without guidance from a teacher.

That’s important: the board never voted on this. Never. The Rachel Maddow Blog was quick to point out in national news that the board planned further discussions in November 2014 (after the election that put Silly Jilly and her pal Charlie on the board), as confirmed by the GPS press flack, Irene Paige-Mahoney-Baloney in the national media:

A district spokesperson tells us that Dr. Christina Kishimoto, who is new to the district, believes that the honors biology textbooks already comply with Arizona law about mentions of abortion and that there’s no need to change the books. Kishimoto talked to the board about this yesterday, and now the superintendent does not intend to offer a plan tonight for pulling back information from students. Instead, the board and the superintendent will hold a public discussion about what, exactly, the board wants taken out of the honors biology textbooks.

“Now the board has come back and said, ‘Hey, wait, we want further clarification,’ ” said spokesperson Irene Mahoney-Paige. “We’re back to where we started.” At a minimum, this represents a delay in ripping out pages from the Gilbert textbooks. It’s possible that the outgoing majority on the board will still order the superintendent to formulate a plan for taking out those pages. The board could also decide to agree with the superintendent that the books are OK as is. Or they could ask for more time to decide the matter, effectively running out the clock on their own decision. The new majority takes over the Gilbert school board in January, and at least two of those members say they favor adding information to the books, not taking it away.

Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s statement that was published in many of the media articles seems to confirm that an OML violation occurred if “the Board decided” that these silly stickers were to be placed in the Biology textbooks.

From The Rachel Maddow Blog: …Soon after the Tea Party majority decided to censor the biology books, voters in very conservative Gilbert decided to replace them with a new majority. Shortly afterward, the outgoing board reversed course and decided against going ahead with ripping pages out of biology textbooks. From the beginning, superintendent Christina Kishimoto had warned her bosses on the board that removing information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what they were missing. With the new majority taking over, Kishimoto told us late last year she would have a team of biology teachers go over the books this summer and likely put together two or three pages of information that they would include in an envelope glued to the inside back cover.

What began with national headlines about a school district ready to shred textbooks now ends with an addition the size of a playing card. School officials in Gilbert have confirmed for us that the stickers are going into the textbooks, inside the back cover.

In a written statement, superintendent Kishimoto says she worked closely with the board on the new plan: “The board and I have full confidence in our teachers and because we trust the way our teachers instruct, we agreed that this is the best course of action. We are pleased with the collaboration and completion of this matter.”

Problem is, by law the board can act only through a vote taken in a public meeting. So if something else happened for the board to *decide* how to fix the Biology textbooks, it’s really bad — and maybe that will become national news. So here we are: either “the Board decided” that the stickers were the best course of action in a public meeting (which didn’t happen) or there was an OML violation during which the Governing Board agreed with Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto, as she now claims. This could have happened in one of the many meetings where a quorum of the Governing Board showed up without complying with the law about *Notice to the Public.*

Another way the GPS Governing Board could have “decided” to put stickers in the textbooks was to engage in *serial discussions* to make sure a majority of the board would agree to whatever Christina 3-2 Kishimoto had already decided. Here’s how that might have worked: say Lily Tram called Jill Humpherys and they agreed; one of them called Charlie Santa Cruz and he agreed. There’s your majority of board members agreeing to do what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto already decided they should do. Unfortunately for Christina and the Rubber Stamps, that’s an OML violation.  Oh, snap!

We’ve become accustomed to the arrogance of this new crop of Good Old Boys and their open and obvious disdain for things like laws that other people follow. Once again, we’ve got a GPS board and superintendency who believe they’re above the law, and besides they’re not just ordinary people (like those who obey laws). No sirree, these folks think they’re really, really *special,* and by golly the public should just BOHICA and get it over with.


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