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Caldwell School District meeting ends in chaos

Proposed policy 3281 was on the agenda for discussion and hundreds of people showed up.

CALDWELL, Idaho — People were lined up outside the Caldwell District Office where the school board holds their annual and regular board meetings this Monday evening. The majority of the people there were concerned with one specific policy being discussed at this month's meeting, proposed policy 3281

The proposed policy is about gender identity and sexual orientation and how the district could make those children feel more comfortable in school by adopting policies that allowed them to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice and be addressed by their preferred pronouns. 

However, the meeting ended abruptly, and in chaos, when first term Sen. Chris Trakel took the podium to comment. He began talking, almost yelling, by stating that he was there to talk about the policy and he was there on his "official position." Regarding the policy, the senator stated that, if it was enacted, it would put the children's moral health and safety at risk.

"You will face litigation ... You call that a threat, I'm telling you that is what will happen. It's already happened in several states and there's already been rulings on it. So, before you waste taxpayer money, before you put a kid in harm's way, you better throw this policy out."

Following that comment, the Chair of the Board, Marisela Pesina, tried to interject but Trakel raised his voice and said, "he had the floor."

When he wouldn't stop talking Pesina moved to recess the meeting for not following protocol. Trakel continued yelling, his microphone was cut out and another board member moved to adjourn. When it was seconded the meeting was ended. 

At that time, the room exploded into commotion with people in the room yelling that the board did not have the authority to end the meeting and booing the members. 

It didn't end there, many people repeatedly called board members names. Caldwell Police had to stand in front of board members as people were asked to leave the room, and then the majority of people there exited slowly and loudly. At one point someone yells that the board members were cowards and would face the consequences.

Prior to Trakel's comments, the meeting was almost recessed several times when people wouldn't stop applauding someone's comments, speaking out of turn and yelling at the board. At one point when three Caldwell students went up to speak in succession, people began complaining and the meeting was also almost adjourned.

The three students were in favor of the policy and spoke to being inclusive of all students in the district. Another younger middle school student spoke out against it.

At the onset of public commentary being opened up, Pesina prefaced that they would only allow comments to go on for an hour, the first speakers had to be living in the district and they would only be allowed three minutes each to talk. Several people who put their name on the docket were not Caldwell residents and not allowed to speak until the Caldwell residents had finished. 

Most people that spoke were against the policy, but not all of them. The people that voiced their negative opinion of the proposed policy made statements invoking God and condemning transgender people. Further, many people said the policy would violate God, the constitution and hasten the destruction of the United States.

The discussion of the proposed policy was only one part of the agenda but it took center stage. KTVB had reached out to the school board for a comment earlier this month and the Director of Communication for the district said they understood the concerns from patrons.

"This is a proposed policy and is still being vetted. We are in the process of gathering input from patrons, administrators, and working with our attorney," stated the email.

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