2 More Resign From Contentious Oregon School Board

NEWBERG, Ore. (AP) — Two members of the a school board in Oregon have announced their resignations at a board meeting this week, citing controversial board decisions in the past year.

Newberg School District board member Rebecca Piros said she can no longer work with people who she feels do not have the best interests of every student and every staff member at heart, KGW-TV reported.

Board member Brandy Penner said she had endured an abusive and disrespectful work environment on the board, and said the board had violated public meeting laws.

“As a publicly elected official, mother, and human, I will not break the law or engage in open and hostile discrimination," she said. "That does make me a defiant outlier in the face of this board. I am proudly defiant of this board’s illegal and immoral actions.”

Board chair Dave Brown did not reply to a request for comment.

The board enacted contentious policies over the past year, including a ban on teachers displaying pride and Black Lives Matter displays on campuses — which was later expanded to all political displays after legal concerns — and abruptly firing former Newberg superintendent Joe Morelock without cause.

In May, t he board named as its next superintendent, Stephen Phillips, who was put on leave amid an investigation in his most recent Oregon superintendent role and who resigned from another superintendent position after retweeting an offensive remark about people who enter the country illegally.

Former board member Ines Peña resigned several months ago, alleging that she faced a “toxic work environment” on the board. Numerous school and district administrators also have resigned from the district.

The disputes in the Newberg School Board have come as schools nationwide have become rife with arguments over vaccine and mask mandates, how racism is addressed in teaching, instruction related to sexuality and gender-neutral bathrooms.

Board vacancies are filled through appointments made by a majority vote of the remaining board members, according to district policy. The appointee serves until June of the next election year, which in this case is 2023.

Newberg is a town of 23,000 situated 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Portland.