Sierra Unified board won't censure trustee who was part of Capitol protest

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Sierra Unified School District board has decided not to censure a trustee who recorded himself at the Capitol during the riots on January 6.

James Hoak's position was under fire because he joined the crowd during the protests that escalated to an assault on the U.S. Capitol.

At a board meeting days after the attack, attended by more than 400 people, many commenters urged the board to take action against Hoak.

RELATED: Sierra Unified school trustee facing calls for removal after Capitol incident

Many others supported him.

On Monday, in a 5-2 vote, the Sierra Unified board voted to direct Trustee James Hoak to become familiar with board bylaws and participate in board training sessions, which some trustees say Hoak and other newer members never received due to the pandemic.

Several clips shot by Hoak in D.C. were attached to the meeting agenda, but the trustee says though he was there, he didn't do anything illegal.

"In every one of my videos I was never in the Capitol. I never participated in the violence," he said.

Supporters, including Hoak's own daughter and father, spoke during the meeting, defending the trustee.

"I have friends of every race, and my dad has always been the best to all of them," Amanda Hoak, his daughter, said.

However, several other parents and alumni were upset by the decision, claiming he went against the board's bylaws, which includes understanding the implications of their own behavior.

"I don't think they took our concerns about the situation seriously. I think they saw it as an opportunity to keep the peace," said Jessica Hudson.

"We're very disappointed in the outcome... His continued presence harms the students and parents," said Bryant Platt.

Both Hudson and Platt are part of a larger group that now plans to move forward with recall efforts against trustee Hoak.
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