Fresno City Council Member Garry Bredefeld says he wants to follow in the footsteps of the San Francisco City Council, which recently filed suit to force San Francisco Unified to open its schools.
Bredefeld announced Wednesday that he will introduce an agenda item next week for a similar lawsuit against Fresno Unified School District, which has remained closed to all but a few small groups of students on-campus during the pandemic.
The proposal was quickly shot down by the council’s vice chairman, who also removed Bredefeld from a schools liaison committee.
Fresno Unified has said that the return to in-person instruction will not be mandatory until Fresno County’s coronavirus infection rates diminish significantly. The county is now in the purple tier, and Fresno Unified plans to delay the return to in-person instruction until the county reaches the orange tier.
Schools need to reopen now, not later, Bredefeld said. Children have been suffering from depression as well as abuse while schools remain closed, he said, noting the recent arrest of three people accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.
Safe for Kids to Return
Bredefeld also cited recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics that students are minimally affected by COVID-19 and can remain safe so long as health and safety precautions are followed.
“The FUSD school board and Superintendent Bob Nelson have been complicit in the damage to these children by keeping the schools closed,” Bredefeld said in a news release. “No more dithering, no more lack of plans to open, no more bowing before the teachers union or Governor Newsom. Prioritize the needs of our children and open the schools-NOW!”
Bredefeld took his campaign to KMJ on Wednesday morning, sharpening his attack and noting that Nelson makes $400,000 yearly, “as much as the president of the United States.” He also said that when “bastions of liberalism” like San Francisco and Los Angeles either file suit or threaten to, “you know you have a problem.”
Nelson: Don’t Make It Political
Bredefeld’s call for a lawsuit to force schools to open brought a speedy response from Nelson on Twitter. Nelson accused Bredefeld of politicizing the issue and linked him to the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.
So how is that current two-party system working for you, Fresnans? Nothing like politicizing an issue as serious as a safe and responsible return to schools in order to rally a support base. The only thing this release lacked was face paint, Viking horns, and a Chewbacca onesie. https://t.co/GHbvBm0mnr
— Bob Nelson (@BobNelson_FUSD) February 10, 2021
But Bredefeld’s proposal was quickly shot down Wednesday morning by Nelson Esparza, the City Council vice president, who said the council will not consider it at the Feb. 18 meeting.
Esparza also said that he has removed Bredefeld from the council’s City Schools Liaison Subcommittee. The subcommittee, which Esparza chairs, typically meets in the fall and spring with educational agencies to discuss issues of mutual concern.
“Unfortunately, allowing this member to remain on the committee after throwing dirt in the eyes of our education leaders would only serve as a distraction,” Esparza said in a news release. “We solve these big structural problems by reaching across and having the conversation with the district about their current reopening plan, not by grandstanding on the public health of 74,000 Fresno Unified families.”