California school district fighting back against Gov. Newsom's $1.5M textbook fine: 'Egregious overreach'

Newsom fined Temecula Valley schools for refusing a state-backed textbook, calling board members 'political activists'

One California school district is fighting back against Gov. Gavin Newsom's $1.5 million fine over its refusal to implement a state-backed textbook reportedly containing "sexualized" material. 

The Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) voted against implementing a textbook that mentions late gay rights activist Harvey Milk, citing concerns over his alleged sexual relationship with minors. 

In response, Newsom fined the district $1.5 million in order to cover the cost of shipping the materials to the district, bypassing the rejection of the school board members. 


california school district fighting back against gov newsoms 15m textbook fine egregious overreach

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is seen at Moffett Federal Airfield of NASA Ames Research Center before President Biden's arrival in Mountain View, California, on June 19, 2023. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

"It is definitely an egregious overreach," Jennifer Wiersma told "Fox & Friends First" on Friday. "It's outside his jurisdiction and his purview as governor, and the voters feel like they are being attacked."

Milk was the first gay man to win an election in San Francisco. The late California lawmaker was known to have had a relationship with a 16-year-old boy while living in New York in his thirties, CNN reported, adding at the time, the age of consent in the Empire State was 14.

The school district pushed back on claims it banned the book, explaining that Temecula schools chose to adopt new state-endorsed material instead. 

"It is unfortunate that Gov. Newsom and others have seized upon an action by the Temecula Valley Unified School expressly authorized by the California Legislature and mischaracterized not only what has occurred, but why," Dr. Joseph Komrosky, the president of the TVUSD Board of Education, previously told Fox News Digital. 

Newsom issued a statement on Wednesday, calling Wiersma and the other conservatives serving on the school board "political activists."


"The three political activists on the school board have yet again proven they are more interested in breaking the law than doing their jobs of educating students — so the state will do their job for them," he said. 

"California will ensure students in Temecula begin the school year with access to materials reviewed by parents and recommended by teachers across the district. After we deliver the textbooks into the hands of students and their parents, the state will deliver the bill — along with a $1.5 million fine — to the school board for its decision to willfully violate the law, subvert the will of parents, and force children to use an out-of-print textbook from 17 years ago." 

But Wiersma pushed back on Newsom's statement, emphasizing the need for local autonomy when it comes to parental rights in the classroom. 

"He is speaking out of turn. Local control is everything, and we are still on a trajectory to make that decision," Wiersma said. "Our students and our teachers will have material in the fall. We are still having that conversation. So for the governor to really, what I look at is saber-rattling at this point with this board, as a mom who stepped up to serve her constituents and who has had children go through this district, it's a place that I love, and I'm going to do my best to continue to work through it."

"The governor needs to step back," she continued. 

Newsom released a video earlier this month saying his office would be "stepping in" to ensure students in Temecula would receive the course materials, while even calling those who stifled the approval "extremists."

He has repeatedly called the material out-of-date, calling the Temecula school board members out for their "incompetence."

california school district fighting back against gov newsoms 15m textbook fine egregious overreach

A close-up of American politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk (1930-1978) as he campaigns for a position on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in September 1977. (Janet Fries/Getty Images)

Co-host Todd Piro asked Wiersma if she is able to wrap her mind around California's far-left push to inject sexualized curriculum into elementary classrooms, as more parents nationwide grapple with LGBTQ+ curriculum being pushed into schools. 

"I think that it is something that more and more parents are questioning," Wiersma responded. "And here in California, parents are just as concerned as parents in Florida and across the country that we are doing things that are age-appropriate."

"And so at this point with curriculum we've looked at, Harvey Milk did come up in a supplemental curriculum, and when you look at his lifestyle and the fact that he did have a sexual relationship with minors, that was a point for us to pause on because I don't think 4-, 8- and 9-year-olds, this is something to talk about," she continued. "Parental rights is important, and if they want to cover that at home within the family, that's great, but at school, it should be the core academics and that is our focus."

Fox News' Taylor Penley and Joshua Q. Nelson contributed to this report.

Bailee Hill is an associate editor with Fox News Digital. Story ideas can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Authored by Bailee Hill via FoxNews July 21st 2023