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Fight over Temecula school board ramps up ahead of recall election

Temecula school board president Joseph Komrosky (center), who is facing a recall election on June 4, is joined by supporters at a rally on a busy street corner in Temecula on Saturday, May 18.
Temecula school board president Joseph Komrosky (center), who is facing a recall election on June 4, is joined by supporters at a rally on a busy street corner in Temecula on Saturday, May 18.

Host: Next Tuesday voters in Temecula will decide whether or not to recall that city’s controversial school board president. Joseph Komrosky, who’s an outspoken Christian Conservative, was elected about a year and a half ago. The policies he and his colleagues have passed have brought numerous lawsuits against the district and swept teachers and the community into the culture war. The vote on June 4 could change all that. KVCR’s Madison Aument reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)

Madison Aument, Byline: More than a hundred people gathered on a busy street corner in Temecula one recent Saturday morning. They were there to defend Joseph Komrosky. He was there too… in his cowboy hat and boots. He waved a “Vote No on the Recall” sign.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORN)

Aument: Other signs demanded protection for parental rights, an idea central to Komrosky’s mission.

Joseph Komrosky: Parental rights is they have the authority over their children. Not a school. Not a county, not the state, not the United States. It's a God given right.

Aument: Since he was elected, Komrosky has pushed controversial measures like banning critical race theory— something that was never taught in the district. He championed a policy to require schools to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender. He says his policies all have the same goal.

Komrosky: If I were to boil down my message to one… protecting innocence of children.

Aument: Under Komrosky, the board also gave themselves broad powers to ban books it deems obscene.

Vicky Coppel: He stands up for the rights that we believe in.

Aument: That’s Vicky Coppel, who was at the rally and sums up what a lot of his supporters say.

Coppel: We don't want boys in the girls bathrooms or locker rooms…and we want him to represent us.

Aument: Meanwhile, others want Komrosky out.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOORBELL, CROSSTALK)

Aument: A group of parents, teachers and community members with the One Temecula Valley PAC have spent months knocking on doors to get people to mark yes on their recall ballots.

(SOUNDBITE OF CANVASSING)

Aument: The PAC had wanted to recall all three conservative Temecula school board members, but only got enough signatures for Komrosky. Jeff Pack, who helps lead the group, says that’s okay because Komrosky has whipped up a firestorm.

Jeff Pack: His demeanor and behavior… it just no way fits the position. And, frankly, you could see the damage being done on day one.

Aument: Pack says he wants to quote “make Temecula boring again.” And by getting Komrosky off the board…

Pack: Most of the radical stuff won't happen.

Aument: Many teachers in the district say that radical stuff has made it hard to teach. Susan Allen has lived in Temecula for years and works at an elementary school there.

Susan Allen: I worry for my teacher friends that are looking over their shoulder or they're afraid of what to say in their classroom.

Aument: Whether Komrosky keeps or loses his position, three other seats on the board are up for election in November. People on both sides of the recall say they expect the vote next Tuesday will be a good predictor of how those races will go. It could be awhile before Temecula is “boring” again. For KVCR News, I’m Madison Aument in Temecula.