Fresno Unified School Board President facing backlash from LGBT community after insensitive comments

Thursday, August 10, 2017
Fresno Unified School Board President facing backlash from LGBT community after insensitive comments
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A school board meeting erupted into mayhem over School Board Trustee Brooke Ashjian's controversial LGBT comments.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A school board meeting erupted into mayhem over School Board Trustee Brooke Ashjian's controversial LGBT comments.

"I apologize to our community who felt marginalized," said FUSD Trustee Valerie Davis.

FUSD Trustee Christopher De La Certa said, "This is not reflective of our board."

Two board members are calling out their colleague following outrage over Ashjian's interview with the Fresno Bee, suggesting that the sex-ED curriculum can sway kids into the LGBT community.

"Your job is not to teach my son to be ashamed of his family, or to teach other children to devalue people different from them," said Kevin Ayotte, parent.

Ashjian apologized under fire, but insists that his words were misquoted.

"That's a crazy statement and if our teachers were that persuasive then we would be number one in the nation in reading, writing and arithmetic and we are not."

But this comment is hardly the first time Ashjian has been questioned for making negative statements. Attorney Kenneth Mackie presented the board with three internet messages laced with derogatory messages toward the gay community and said Ashjian testified about those postings.

We asked Ashjian if he ever made any anti-gay remarks in the past and he said, "Not that I'm aware of."

Depositions show Ashjian admitting that he posted on a website called Ripoff Reports about Gay Fresno back in 2011 because he was angry. But he insists he doesn't remember what he wrote.

"One of my companies donated to Prop 8, they put me on a do not business list and it bothered me"

Our reporter asked, "Did you do anything about it?"

Ashjian answered, "Not that I remember, I have to go back and look."

Other board members will now take a look at the deposition after Wednesday's meeting.

The deposition states that those posts were traced back to Ashjian's laptop, but after the computer was ordered to be inspected it was reported stolen.



FRESNO - Fresno Unified School Board President Brooke Ashjian released the following statement regarding documents provided to the media at Wednesday night's school board meeting by Kenneth Mackie, Esq.:

During last night's Fresno Unified Board Meeting, Mr. Kenneth Mackie distributed redacted copies of depositions from litigation that occurred many years prior to my election to the Board. During the course of the deposition, an attorney questioned me regarding political contributions and subsequent statements that were made online that were alleged to have be made by me.

First and foremost, my participation in the political process and expression of my beliefs are well within my First Amendment rights. So, too, were the boycott activities of the organization.

As I did at the time of the deposition, I strongly deny that the exhibits (screenshots of alleged online statements) presented were made by me. Additionally, despite my best efforts to jog my memory, I still have no specific knowledge of the information posted online nearly six years ago allegedly attributed to me.

While Mr. Mackie distributed copies of the depositions, a brief review will show that many pages are missing. Such omissions are suspect but hardly surprising.

Allies of Superintendent Michael Hanson repeatedly attempted to use this case to silence me during my investigations into improper business transactions by Fresno Unified. It appears Mr. Mackie has taken up that charge now. Unfortunately for him, I will not be silenced.

Last night, a cease and desist letter was served on Mr. Mackie, that shows that Mr. Mackie does not represent any organization by the name "Fresno Watchdogs for Ethical Bidding." According to the letter I received, that organization is represented by Bell McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP of Sacramento.

I await the next set of insinuations from Mr. Mackie and his mysterious "clients."

On a separate note: I wish to thank each community member who attended last night's board meeting. The candor and, more importantly, civility while addressing their elected representatives set a terrific example for each and every Fresno Unified student. I only wish such civility were reflected by my colleagues, especially with the eyes of the next Superintendent watching our Board's every move.