One week prior to the Santa Barbara Unified’s school board selection of a trustee to fill out Laura Capps’s remaining term, the Independent profiled applicants for the seat, including myself. However, I was misrepresented in the article which focused on my 2019 lawsuit against SBCC for violations of both the First Amendment and the California Brown Act. Upon reflection, I decided to hold off responding here until after the board had made their selection on January 12, so that readers would not mistakenly interpret my motives as having anything to do with the board’s selection. Instead, I’d like to share the important takeaway: a story about old-fashioned journalistic ethics. And hope restored.

In the January 5 article, the Indy reporter presented facts about the 2019 City College incident, but neglected to present the truth behind the facts, two distinct concepts. Four years ago, I spoke before the SBCC Board of Trustees to request the reinstatement of the Pledge of Allegiance to their agenda. One faculty member attempted to silence me. Contrary to the article, the woman did not “interrupt” my public comment. She intimidated me, repeatedly shouted over my prepared remarks, and incited others. I was terrified. The room was a frightening place for everyone: the board, the students standing behind the dais, other audience members, and myself. We were all endangered.

The article’s profile then followed with mention of the lawsuit, but nothing about the lawsuit itself. First, the lawsuit was not about the pledge. It was about the clear violation of free speech: the right to speak upon being recognized by a governing body. Additionally, violations of the California Brown Act, notably at the Academic Senate meeting weeks later, on May 1, 2019.

When folks learn that an individual won a lawsuit against a school district, they imagine a plaintiff awarded bags of money to pay off a mortgage. That was the impression given in the article. But in my suit against City College, I asked for nothing. I received nothing. I paid out-of-pocket for my attorneys: $2,000. And, I never asked for a dime from anyone, including a Go-Fund-Me page. This was my fight.

I fought back because the First Amendment matters mightily to me. The right to speak during Public Comment is precious, inviolate. My successful lawsuit put that college on notice. No one else will be intimidated as I was.

However, correcting the record wasn’t the only reason for writing today. It’s important to me that I publicly applaud the reporter for her integrity. Upset at my misleading profile, I wrote directly to the reporter, Callie Fausey, and within a few hours, she responded — something that surprised me.

And in her email, the young journalist apologized.

I was stunned. Read and see if her words don’t stun you, as well:  “I did not give enough consideration to how my words came across and for that I am sorry. … I do not see the point in local journalism if it does not consider and accurately represent the honest voices and experiences of the community.” Well?

The American people are living through a disturbing time, darkness appearing to encircle our republic, including our battered press. Or so it seems. But then I read Fausey’s words, reread them, and I am heartened. For her vocation. For our country. For us as a people. Here is a young reporter commencing her career, still learning, and determined to uphold journalistic standards in every word she writes. And, to take responsibility when she falls short of her own set standards.

But a free press is not “free.” Newspaper boys no longer deliver the paper on bikes. Online subscriptions have replaced newsprint. In order to thrive, an independent press requires paid subscriptions. Locally, I like Indy and Noozhawk myself. If you don’t already financially support journalism, please do so. They depend on our support so that they, in turn, can support us through the power of the printed word.

Happy New Year, Callie Fausey.


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