Editor: Manteca Bulletin,
I’m writing to challenge the court filing of Ralph Lee White and Bobby Bivens, which defends Sam Fant. The body of this filing was printed in the Manteca Bulletin “word for word as it was submitted to the court”. It claims that “overt racism” at an “extreme level” exists in “both the community and amongst MUSD”. However, the filing, itself, is filled with inaccuracies, misleading assertions, and faulty conclusions.
Ashley Drain’s name is misspelled (“Drane”) throughout the document, displaying sloppiness and a lack of attention to detail. But more troubling are the false assertions these gentlemen put forth. They inaccurately describe Sam Fant as “the first black member of the MUSD school board”. The actual first black member of the school board was Rex Holiday from Weston Ranch. Rex honorably served four years on the board, without controversy.
But apparently, it is easy for White and Bivens to conveniently “forget” or deliberately ignore this fact because it doesn’t fit their narrative that Fant is a victim of the district’s supposed racial intolerance.
These gentlemen go on to insist that “MUSD undertook an investigation of Sam Fant, and considered a motion to censure Mr. Fant rather than to investigate and attempt to address and ameliorate the overt racism that existed in both the community and amongst MUSD...” They fail to acknowledge that, at considerable time, effort, and expense, the school district conducted TWO separate investigations about the employee’s actions (interviewing co-workers, supervisors, associates, and the employee, herself) before concluding that racist claims against her were unfounded. The investigation of Sam Fant was not about his right to feel offended by an employee’s facebook postings, but whether his subsequent actions (trying to involve the Bulletin before informing his fellow Trustees, as an example) violated district policy and union agreements.
These gentlemen aver that “frightened black students who read these facebook posts” contacted Trustee Fant with their concerns. So are we to believe that teenagers in Weston Ranch routinely scan MUSD employees’ facebook postings on their own for fun? There is no mention that Ashley Drain, self-proclaimed as computer savvy, had a disagreement on her own facebook page with the employee in question and also happened to mentor a group of Weston Ranch High students. Readers can draw their own conclusions as to what really happened. But I find it appalling for the filing to re-hash this issue at the employee’s expense, just to try to shift focus from Fant’s actual legal troubles.
The filing goes on to criticize the Grand Jury report, cherry-picking quotes to draw the faulty conclusion that the report was “biased, uneven, and lacking in objectivity”. It asserts that the crux of the report’s “lament” is “change being brought to MUSD in the form of students of color and now trustees of color” and that the report’s reference to “toxic effects on District operations” is really all about “change brought about by different colored skin and different perspectives on the role of education and treatment of children of color”.
The filing notes that the demographics at Weston Ranch High are 42% Latino, 27% Asian, 22% Black, and 8% white”. The majority of WRH students are Latino and Asian, groups that have not complained of racial discrimination to the school board. They, too, are “children of color”. Manteca and its surrounding communities (French Camp, Lathrop, and Weston Ranch) have had diverse student populations for some time now.
Again, there were no racial controversies when black Trustee Rex Holiday represented the Weston Ranch area, so maybe this is more about a Trustee’s words or actions, rather than skin color. A telling fact ignored in the filing is that Weston Ranch High’s previous principal was Hispanic, a racial role model for the majority of WRH students. Unfortunately, personal conflicts with Trustees Drain and Fant (supposed advocates of administrative diversity) who interfered at the school site, caused him to leave the district (with a substantial take-away package).
The most glaring omission in the filing is the fact that the Grand Jury report specifically excluded any examination, investigation, or conclusions about the election fraud allegations, because the they were under criminal investigation. Instead, the report centered on Drain and Fant’s interactions with staff and employees and areas where these actions and the district, itself, needed improvement. It’s strange that White and Bivens try to paint the Grand Jury as “racially biased” in order to defend Fant from charges the Grand Jury didn’t even tackle.
I am not naive enough to believe that pockets of racism don’t exist anywhere in Manteca, French Camp, Lathrop, or Weston Ranch. But I don’t believe racism is pervasive here and certainly not institutionalized or sanctioned by MUSD. I see this filing as a distraction from the true issue of possible election fraud and Fant’s role in it.
If he is innocent, he will be exonerated. If he is guilty, there are consequences to face. He needs to focus on the evidence — that’s what a jury will examine to determine his fate. All this subterfuge, and smoke and mirrors of accusing MUSD, the Grand Jury, and the District Attorney’s office of being racist just smacks of desperation.