During the closed session of the Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustees on Oct. 6, the Manteca Bulletin learned that Trustee Nancy Teicheira was reportedly yelled at and was told to “grow up.”
Trustee Sam Fant of Area 1 reportedly threw that comment toward Teicheira of Area 4 after she raised the issue over the use of cell phones during board meetings. Although Teicheira directed her statement to board president Don Scholl, which is the standard meeting protocol, it was clear the target of her question was Fant who had his cell phone out in front of him, according to the source who will remain unnamed because closed-session proceedings are confidential.
That was not the first time Fant had his smartphone out during a board meeting. He had done so a number of times during open meetings following closed sessions in full view of the people in the audience. Fant himself admitted when interviewed on Thursday that he has his cell phone out during the public portion of the board meetings but he sets it on vibrate, and he never uses it for any type of communication. He also said that to his knowledge, he has never seen any board member use their cell phones to “make a phone call or anything” during meetings.
But Fant reportedly got mad at Teicheira for her comment that clearly referenced the visible presence of his cell phone during the closed-session meeting and told his colleague to quit picking on people and that she “needed to grow up” which is tantamount to saying one is being childish or acting like a child.
It is that comment which prompts the following questions:
• Is it being childish to point out that set rules are apparently being ignored?
• Is it being childish to question board actions when they appear to be questionable and need to be clarified or investigated?
• Is it being childish to bring to the attention of the board and the public at large that you don’t think it’s right to approve a school budget that has a discrepancy of $9 million so you vote against it even if you are the lone dissenter?
• At the risk of sounding being naïve about the convoluted fiscal workings of government at all levels, we dare ask, is it being childish to be resolutely against spending money you don’t have, like the $9 million 2014-2015 school district budget shortage, so that you have to dip into your savings or reserves instead of waiting until that money is available?
• Is it being childish to stand up and question things even though you know you are alone in doing so and thus opening up yourself as an easy target for attack from those who happen to disagree with you or question your maturity?
• And, is it childish to exercise your belief that this is a country where everyone enjoys freedom of speech, one of the gifts of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteeing the right to express one’s opinions without censorship or restraint?
Following that vein of questioning, how about the language that Trustee Fant reportedly used in frustration when he reacted to his perception of being picked on and said he was tired of all the “s—t”?
Even the board member who reportedly reacted to the use of that four-letter word by asking, “What did you say?” to Fant is covered by the same freedom of speech.
I’m sure everyone who felt they have been singled out unjustly or unfairly at one time or another – with my own self as no exception – can easily empathize with Trustee Fant’s feelings. It is also fair to point out that Fant himself was also simply exercising his freedom of speech while unleashing his verbal reaction to Teicheira’s questioning.