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Poway Unified moves meetings online amid threats against board members

Board members voted unanimously to hold their next meeting virtually because they are receiving death threats from people protesting COVID-19 mandates.

Poway Unified School Board members on Monday voted unanimously to hold their next public meeting online because they continue to receive death threats from people protesting mask and COVID vaccine mandates.

"Due to the continual imminent risk to the health and safety risk of staff and board members, we recommend that the board approve conducting the regular scheduled Poway Board of Education on Nov. 18, 2021, online via virtual video conferencing," said Poway Unified Superintendent Marian Phelps at a special meeting held on Monday.

The vote came after a number of reported incidents on school grounds, district property and at the homes of Phelps and board members.


"The protesters have also visited board members and the superintendent’s home in the past several weeks to personally deliver stacks of manifesto documents," Phelps said. "Board are also receiving death threats to them and their family members."

The Poway Unified School District building is shown on Feb. 3, 2021.
Zoë Meyers
The Poway Unified School District building is shown on Feb. 3, 2021.

Protesters were arrested just before the board's Oct. 14 meeting after refusing to leave the district's build and refusing to wear masks, she said.

Student school board member Winnie Xu was at that meeting.

"In that moment it was definitely you know a terrifying experience that a public meeting was being stopped based on a riot against mask mandates," she said. "In the moment I think I was almost in shock that it actually happening in our local district and we were the board members who were being targeted."

Xu has received numerous threats through her district email.


"It’s definitely been harrowing as a senior in high school experiencing these things, especially in such a public role," she said.

One protester who had been arrested at the meeting later left graffiti at both the district office and a school.

"For me, it’s definitely saddening to know that we have to do so for our safety," Xu said. "But I do believe that in regards to all of our district staff and all of our associate superintendents, our district leaders, it’s the right thing to do for the time being."

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