PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Newberg is a gateway to Oregon’s world-class wine country, but it’s also a place where the culture wars are in an all-out political battle being mostly waged in the city’s school system.
The national spotlight on Newberg began in August, when a majority of the school board voted to ban “Black Lives Matter” and Pride symbols on school campuses, leading to an immediate backlash as students voiced their opinions against it and residents started putting up their own symbols, leading to more than a few heated school board meetings.
Now, there are recall efforts against School Board Chair Dave Brown and Vice-Chair Brian Shannon, who also used to be the board’s chair, and lawsuits are being filed across both groups.
Shannon and the three other conservatives who make up the school board’s majority fired the district’s superintendent in early November. Meanwhile, the school board members are suing a group of constituents for “doxing,” or making their personal information public, and the Newberg teacher’s union is suing the board, saying the ban on symbols is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Tai Harden-Moore, who recently announced her candidacy for Yamhill County Commissioner, is a diversity and equity consultant who lives in Newberg and has a child in the school district. She also previously ran for the school board.
Harden-Moore said she’s running to bring “new ideas and fresh perspective” after seeing push back against diversity and inclusion in the community amid the ongoing school board controversy.
“I think that’s due to a lack of information and education really around these issues and over-reliance on trigger words, like ‘CRT’ that folks are hearing on their media stations or from other folks in the community and it’s really … disappointing to see,” she said.