Hermosa Beach Schools superintendent’s rap recitation puts political correctness to test
by Dan Blackburn
The law made him do it, said Jason Johnson, superintendent of the Hermosa Beach City School District, reflecting on his live reading during a board meeting last Wednesday of a rapper’s obscenity-laden lyrics into the public record.
And he articulated the words of Carli B’s wildly-offensive “WAP” offering with nary a nuanced facial expression.
The incident found its origins in an ongoing community dispute regarding the consideration of incorporating so-called “equity and inclusion” instruction into the district’s curriculum. It’s an issue sharply divided by polarized political positions.
Matt McCool, the letter’s author, said he was “mocking the identity politics” he accuses the district of adopting, and criticizing what he views as “an anti-white indoctrination curriculum.”
Because of a ruling by the district’s lawyer, Aaron O’Donnell, that the letter needed to be read aloud, verbatim, Johnson did just that.
O’Donnell, of the Cerritos firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, said the matter was “not discretionary.”
Public comment presentation “is obligatory and cannot be censored,” O’Donnell told Easy Reader.
Johnson said McCool “wrote the letter — as outrageous as it was — in such a way that it was tied to public comment, to district business, and yet it had some very inflammatory comments in it. I would expect some strong pushback on that.
“I’m just taking it day by day, that’s all you can do. If this is part of the price of doing the job, then it’s a small price to pay. I’ve just kind of learned this year to take it all in stride.”
Johnson said McCool’s point “was about the public comment procedures themselves, which we are kind of stuck in because of the pandemic. And I agree with Mr. McCool’s point that it does create kind of an absurd dilemma.”
As to the issue at the center of the controversy, Johnson said, “We are in full support of ensuring excellence for all in Hermosa Schools, and we have adopted recommendations… to make equity and inclusion one of our top goals moving forward.”
Board President Stephen McCall said he wanted to limit his comments on the video matter because “I don’t want to give more oxygen to this cause. I will just say that the board values public comment.”
Johnson echoed that sentiment, then added wistfully, “I do think about how far that video will go.” ER
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