Entire school board resigns after accidental public livestream

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In this stock photo, a woman holds her hand to her face in frustration in front of a laptop computer, illustrating the realisation of a mistakeImage source, Getty Images

An entire California school board has resigned after making disparaging remarks about families in an online meeting which they did not realise was being publicly live-streamed.

"They want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back," one member said about parents.

Another implied that parents wanted their children out of the house so they could take drugs during the day.

Parents, however, had been joining the public call as it progressed.

"Uh-oh," said board member Kim Beede when she was told, several minutes into the discussion: "We have the meeting open to the public right now."

The Webex meeting immediately went into private status.

But NBC Bay Area reporter Bigad Shaban tweeted snippets afterwards for all to see.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

After board president Lisa Brizendine said parents outraged about Covid restrictions just wanted the school to act as "babysitters", another member, Richie Masadas, joked that some parents wanted to take drugs while their children were not at home.

"My brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana - his clientele were parents with their kids in school," he said, to laughter from the others.

Ms Beede also swore while joking about attacking one parent who had criticised her online - but not before asking "are we alone?" and erroneously being told they were.

The group criticised parents who wrote comments and complaints, after discussing a way to limit voice messages to three minutes, and cutting callers off.

"It's easy to hide behind their screen and put a comment down, but when you're face-to-face with people, it's a whole different ball game," Mr Masadas said.

The fallout resulted in more than 7,000 people signing a petition calling for their resignations due to "egregious behaviour".

Two days after the meeting, the entire board resigned, according to Oakley Union Elementary School District Superintendent Greg Hetrick, who had also been on the call.

In a letter to parents, he included a statement from three of the former board members.

"We deeply regret the comments that were made in the meeting of the Board of Education earlier this week," it said.

"It is our responsibility to model the conduct that we expect of our students and staff, and it is our obligation to build confidence in District leadership; our comments failed you in both regards, and for this we offer our sincerest apology.

"Please do not let our failure in judgement cast a shadow on the exceptional work that our teachers, administrators and hard-working employees are doing," it added.

The school board's website now lists all positions as vacant, with members of the county board temporarily stepping in to fill the gap.