Gavin Newsom fines school district $1.5 million for rejecting textbook mentioning gay rights activist

Newsom lambasted the board's conservative members as 'extremist' in a video on July 13

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom followed through on his threats to fine the Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD), launching his next culture war attack against conservative board members who rejected state-endorsed textbooks that mention gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

"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," Newsom said Wednesday in a statement.

"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." 


gavin newsom fines school district 15 million for rejecting textbook mentioning gay rights activist

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on May 2, 2023. (PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The $1.5 million fine will cover the cost to ship the materials to the district, a fine Newsom warned would follow if board members insisted on withholding their approval.

In a video on July 13, the prominent Democrat said the state would be "stepping in" to ensure the district's students received the same materials as those belonging to other California schools. Along with the threat, he blasted board members as "extremist[s]" for holding the line.

"We’re going to purchase the book for these students — the same one that hundreds of thousands of kids are already using. If these extremist school board members won’t do their job, we will — and fine them for their incompetence," he said.

Following Newsom's remarks, board members stuck to their guns and struck down the content with a 3-2 majority rejection on Tuesday. 

The Wednesday statement from Newsom's office hammered the board for subjecting students to outdated materials — namely a textbook published in 2006. In previous language, he accused the board of "censoring" the book. 


gavin newsom fines school district 15 million for rejecting textbook mentioning gay rights activist

An image from the livestream of a March 22 Critical Race Theory workshop in Temecula Valley, California.  (Temecula Valley Unified School District)

In a statement previously sent to Fox News Digital, Dr. Joseph Komrosky, the president of the TVUSD Board of Education, fired back at Newsom's claims, insisting that the board did not ban the book, but instead chose not to adopt the new state-recommended material. 

"It is unfortunate that Governor 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," he said in part, reiterating that he did not speak on behalf of the entire board. 

Komrosky previously garnered attention from the governor after labeling Milk as a "pedophile." Newsom responded by tweeting, "An offensive statement from an ignorant person. This isn’t Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our kids have the freedom to learn. Congrats Mr. Komrosky you have our attention. Stay tuned."


gavin newsom fines school district 15 million for rejecting textbook mentioning gay rights activist

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)

"It was never my intention to insult anyone, as it is always my intention to lead with civility. My word choice is based upon facts represented by Mr. Milk, and I don’t believe those facts are a good example for our children to learn about in elementary school," Komrosky said in response to the tweet.

Near the end of the Wednesday statement from Newsom's office, plans for Newsom to work with the state's legislature and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to "enact legislation to impose fines on any school district that fails to provide adequate instructional materials" were noted.

Opponents of the textbook argue that sex and homosexuality should not be taught in materials for elementary school students, an argument emerging in school districts across the nation as many continue to include LGBTQ+ content inside the classroom. 

Milk, the person in contention, 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.

Fox News Digital reached out to Gov. Newsom's office and the TVUSD for additional comment, but did not receive an immediate response from either.

Fox News' Joshua Q. Nelson contributed to this report.

Taylor Penley is an associate editor with Fox News.

Authored by Taylor Penley via FoxNews July 20th 2023