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Verbal Violence

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LAST JULY, AS THE BATTLE TO REMOVE two school board members heated up, Yucaipa teachers found an unsigned notice in their office mailboxes: "The following businesses are supporting the recall....'' One of the companies listed was Riley's Farm, the orchard owned by Dennis Riley, a leader of the Parent/Citizen Association of Yucaipa/Calimesa, an organization working to remove "Impressions'' from the schools. Because he backs the recall, Riley believes he has been targeted by teachers for economic revenge. Riley doesn't believe a boycott will break his business, but he does see the district's 315 teachers throwing their not-insubstantial weight around. He points out that the district's $25 million budget makes public education Yucaipa's largest industry. "Many people affiliated with that industry have to check their wallets before they check their conscience,'' he says. Riley and other PCAYC members also question the donation of $10,000 from the California Teachers Association to the Committee Opposed to the Recall Election. As of mid-August, CORE donations from all sources amounted to $25,000; PCAYC's totaled nearly $18,000. CORE's treasurer, Bob Stranger, is also a member of the school board, PCAYC's Bob Isenberg notes. Isenberg believes the $10,000 donation was a down payment on a new teacher contract. That contract would include a controversial "academic freedom'' clause that the union wants the school board to approve. Under the clause, Isenberg claims, Yucaipa teachers would be given carte blanche to determine what and how to teach, free from interference. "It assumes the teacher is right--period,'' says Isenberg, who filed a complaint against the school board with the California Fair Political Practices Commission. (As of mid-September, the commission had not issued a ruling.) J.M.

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