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CA school board leader condemned over calls for "Christ centered" parents on committees
Julie Leavens-Hupp insists she wasn't excluding anyone
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If anyone near the Sacramento, California area would like to advise the Rocklin Unified School District on matters involving safety, curriculum, or social services, the school board is currently looking for volunteers.
Ideal candidates should be able to attend a few meetings each year, bring forth ideas from their communities, and love Jesus Christ.
That last one was cited last week by Julie Leavens-Hupp, the president of the RUSD School Board, who specifically called for “Christ centered” applicants on her Facebook campaign page:
As your school board we have worked very hard to insist that important decisions (such as new curriculum) involve our parents. Now we need you. The advisory committee sign ups went out today. We need as many Christ centered, family focused parents as we can get on those committees. PLEASE take a look and see what you can commit to for the year. Thank you for your love and support! Together, we will keep our children safe and thriving!
That’s a hell of a way to tell Jews, Muslims, and atheists that their services are not wanted… It’s all the more disturbing when you realize one of the committees will advise the board on a new science curriculum for grades K-5. The last thing that committee needs are people motivated by their religious beliefs instead of a passion for science education. (Last year, according to news station KOVR, Hupp and a majority of the board voted against a proposed science curriculum recommended by teachers.)
If “Christ centered” is supposed to be shorthand for something else, then why not be specific about what that means? Are we talking about the Christians who care about marginalized students and inclusive classroom policies, or the Christians who use their faith to exclude and demean others? If she thinks “Christ centered” means something positive, then she’s living in a conservative bubble.
Hupp’s comments struck a nerve with many families in the district, who said they were proudly “family focused” but not in a way Hupp would appreciate. Elizabeth Dean said her wife was trans and asked Hupp to explain why “you don’t need our involvement in your advisory board to keep our children safe and thriving.“
The response was nothing more than faith-based deflection. “The inclusion of one does not mean the exclusion of others,” Hupp said to her. You see, just because she wants Christian parents on the advisory boards doesn’t mean she doesn’t want non-Christian parents there too. (That’s why it totally wouldn’t be racist, by her logic, had she specifically asked white parents to sign up.)
When another parent asked if the board would accept an application from an atheist, Hupp—stripped of her characteristic suburban-mom-emoji- overload sentences—simply said “yes.”
Other parents correctly pointed out that if people wanted their kids to have a Christ-centered education, they could send their kids to a private Christian school. But as president of a public school board, Hupp had no business posting that dog-whistle.
On Saturday, after several commenters demanded a recall election and contacted local news outlets, Hupp posted a follow-up. She didn’t apologize or take anything back. Instead, she implied everyone was misinterpreting her comment.
In answer to a question I am receiving, Yes, I asked for Christ loving individuals to join committees. I posted on many different sites. I also asked for family centered individuals and principle centered, loving people. All faiths and all child loving people are encouraged to sign up. The inclusion of one does not mean the exclusion of others. I also asked others. It is an open door. If you live in Rocklin and want what is best for children and have the time to commit, come join.
That… doesn’t make any more sense. She asked Christians, and only Christians, to apply for the public school advisory boards. She did not do similar outreach to non-Christians. It’s that simple.
Saying that people of "all faiths” are encouraged to apply—something she absolutely did not say the first time around—still excludes atheists. And let’s be honest: The damage was already done with her initial statement telling non-Christians they wouldn’t be welcome in these committees.
All she had to do was keep her damn religion out of it. She couldn’t do it. Even the best case scenario here—that Hupp simply used “Christ centered” to mean good and decent—doesn’t make much sense in practice because the two ideas are not synonymous. Just ask people who aren’t Christians but have to constantly deal with the right-wing arrogance of people like Hupp.
One commenter’s response to Hupp’s “clarification” was perfectly on point, noting that a “great leader” would’ve recognized her error rather than repeat it: “Instead, you double down, to me indicating one of the following—you don’t care, you choose to have your head far deep in the sand or you’re just totally inept.”
Incidentally, Hupp was elected to the board in 2020 along with two conservative allies, giving them a majority on the board. During her campaign, Hupp bragged about being endorsed by “school choice advocates,” which should have been concerning to those who care about the future of public schools. The conservatives on board include a pastor at Destiny Church, a right-wing megachurch in the area, along with another church-supported member.
Hupp hasn’t directly responded to the calls for her to resign. A spokesperson for the district, however, issued a laughable statement about how Hupp “has always been proud of the diversity of our community and hopes to see it represented in all of our communities.” That supposed belief is contradicted by her own words.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for September 6. Anyone in the area troubled by Hupp’s comments should consider making their voices heard on that day.
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