NEWBERG, Ore. (KOIN) — The Newberg School Board met with their attorney at Tuesday’s meeting to talk about their next steps after their controversial policy banning certain symbols inside schools was struck down by the Yamhill County Court last week.
The executive session ran long Tuesday night as the school board met with their attorney. The public portion of the meeting began an hour late. But parents on both sides of the issue either testified in person or wrote a public comment about the court’s recent ruling.
Kristen Stoller’s kids have been in Newberg Public Schools for the past decade. She said the past 2 years of turmoil over the symbols ban, such as Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, has taken its toll on the town.
“My same message has been to keep your political agendas out of the school board,” Stoller told KOIN 6 News. “We’re hemorrhaging families, hemorrhaging students and hemorrhaging staff because of these ignorant political moves that they’re making that just drain our budget and push people away from our community.”
While she and some other parents who spoke with KOIN 6 News are happy the court overturned the school board’s ban, they think the legal battle is far from over.
“I don’t expect this to be done,” said former Newberg School Board member Brandy Penner. “I think that will continue. And I think, quite honestly, that’s been the intent the entire time.”
Penner thinks the school board will try and take this case to the Supreme Court.
“The awful side of that is the fact that it’s our children’s public education that is being sacrificed in the meantime,” she said.
The last line item she saw on this before she resigned from the board last summer was that legal fees for the school were approaching a half-million dollars.
“This is costing hundreds of thousands, quickly approaching $1 million, and that is money directly taken out of our classroom,” Penner said. “And there is a direct correlation between the decisions of the board that have put the district in legal and the funding that we have.”
While the board did not lay out their next steps, some expressed their disappointment with the court’s ruling.
KOIN 6 News reached out to 4 board members named in the lawsuit last week and again Tuesday. At this time they have not responded.
But during the meeting, board member Brian Shannon said: “Obviously the decision that came out was a disappointment. It has not dissuaded me in my desires to try and keep political agendas out of our kids’ classrooms and to make sure our lessons are age appropriate for children. And so I will continue that work and we’ll see what shape that takes.”