Updated at the bottom: Fisher requests a three-month leave of absence, saying he needs to focus on his “health and personal wellbeing.” The board accepts, but local civil-rights leaders (and L.A. porn star Sasha Grey) aren't happy.
Originally posted at 9:15 a.m.
In the worst public rant we've ever heard from an elected official in L.A. County, Compton Unified School District board member Skyy Fisher called the superintendent a “bitch” and Trayvon Martin a “faggot” on his friends' podcast last month. (Other lowlights: He describes a local father “crying and shit to the board, talking about how his daughter been raped and all kind of bullshit,” and admits wearing a Trayvon hoodie to the board meeting was a publicity stunt.)
So what does the district plan to do about it?
“That's an absolutely good question!” says a woman at the front desk. “I have no idea. Let me transfer you to the superintendent's office.”
Maria Zendejas, a clerk for Superintendent Karen Frison, says that the school board is actually the superintendent's boss, so Frison has no power to fire a wayward board member. “You know how they did with Arnold Schwarzenegger? When they tried to recall him?” she asks. “It would be like that. It would have to go through the community.”
The only way that Compton parents can kick a scumbag like Fisher off the board that governs the future if their children is to collect enough signatures for a recall election.
Robert D. Skeels, who's currently organizing a recall against Los Angeles Unified School District board member Monica Garcia (for more policy-related purposes), says that as of Wednesday, the L.A. City Clerk is currently reviewing his group's petition.
He says the petition required signatures from 15 percent of the registered voters within the school district to qualify.
Because Compton is smaller — with only 41,833 registered voters — a recall petition would require 8,367 signatures. That'll take some very motivated community organizers, seeing as the level of political apathy in Compton is notoriously high. But when shamed sex-crime victims and homophobic slurs are involved, we think residents might give a damn.
Here's a county guide to filling out and turning in the petition.
Meanwhile, Fisher has completely dropped off the face of the Internet. As far as we can tell, he's deleted all his online accounts, including Facebook and Twitter — and we can't find a working email address for him, either.
We might take the same fire escape, had we humiliated ourselves to this extent on Pigzradio:
Zendejas at the superintendent's office says that the district is “working on a press release,” on Fisher's rant. Multiple calls to the CUSD press office have gone unreturned.
Update No. 1: Ron Suazo, head of media relations for the district, just responded to our millions of voicemails with the following email.
“Sorry about the late response. I was busy covering one of our schools receiving the California Distinguished School Award from State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. At this time the district will not make a statement regarding Fisher's comments.”
Accepting plaques instead of dealing with a giant PR disaster in the uppermost ranks of CUSD? Why aren't we surprised.
Update No. 2: And here's what porn star Sasha Grey, who the district invited to read books to elementary-schoolers last year, has to say about the Fisher scandal:
@LAWeekly but they canceled a 14 yr old non-profit reading program because I volunteered. Sick
— Sasha Grey (@SashaGrey) May 4, 2012
Update No. 3: Fisher has requested that CUSD Board President Margie Garretta grant him a 60-day leave of absence while he tries to become a better dude. Here's his official statement:
“It is with deep regret that I submit this letter advising of my intention to take a 60 day leave of absence from the Board, effective immediately. Recent events leave little doubt as to the need for me to devote my attention to my health and personal wellbeing. In taking this action, I nevertheless want to reiterate my unyielding commitment to the District and especially, to its students. Over the next two months, it is my sincere intention to prove myself worthy of the community's trust and respect. In the meantime, I appreciate your patience and forbearance as I work toward restoration and renewal.”
We can just hear his friends at Pigzradio, snickering over how official and serious he sounds. Really, all we see is a scared little boy trying to get suspended from school (snow day, bee-otch!) until everyone forgets the hideous words that came out of his mouth.
So what do you say, Compton? Do you accept Fisher's apology, or is a recall in order?
Update No. 4: Margie Garrett, president of the school board, says she's “deeply disturbed” by Fisher's podcast commentary. However, she does approve of his two-month vaycay. Her statement:
We at the Compton Unified School District are all deeply disturbed and sadden by recent statements made by Board Member Skyy Fisher concerning Trayvon Martin, Interim Superintendent Karen Frison and one of our student's and her family member.
His comments in no way represent this Board, this District or this community!
We nevertheless wish to express our regret for the pain caused by this incident. We sincerely hope that during his period of absence from the Board, Mr. Fisher is able to fully address the personal and health related problems that precipitated this conduct.
In the meantime, on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I want to assure everyone in the District and the Compton community that our full attention is, and will remain, focused on the education of our students and on continuing our positive transformation.
Najee Ali, executive director of L.A. civil-rights group Project Islamic Hope, emails us to say that Fisher's apology “doesn't change anything.”
Ali says he and other angry residents plan on “going to the school board meeting Tuesday night and his house the following Saturday to protest.”
Update No. 5: We just talked to Ali on the phone. He says “several dozen angry parents and community leaders” will be at next week's school-board meeting, as well as picketing outside Fisher's Compton residence the following Saturday.
Of Fisher's press statement, Ali says, “We never asked for his apology. That was never on the table for discussion.” Instead, he and other leaders from groups like the NAACP are demanding that the elected official “tender his immediate resignation from the school board.”
Fisher has “embarrassed the whole city of Compton,” says Ali. “The whole nation is watching us now.”
Including Trayvon Martin's parents — who were, incidentally, just in town last month for a justice rally at West Angeles Church. “I'm friends with Trayvon's family, and they were outraged,” says Ali. “They were hurt and dismayed, and they're not accepting this apology.” (Looks like the publicity stunt with the Trayvon hoodie didn't get one local pol very far.)
If Fisher does not resign after all this pressure, Ali says community activists do plan to organize a recall effort.
So where's Superintendent Karen Frison through all this hurt?
Ali says the coalition tried to meet with her yesterday, but she was M.I.A. — further demonstrating the level of “dysfunctional leadership” within the Compton Unified School District.