The nerve

At least one official in the Santa Ynez Valley has had it with the area’s political shenanigans. 

The Santa Ynez Valley Union High School principal is quitting after one year on the job. Why? It’s definitely you, not him. Michael Niehoff said he tried to make learning the forefront of his job, but the people in the Santa Ynez Valley made that really hard. 

“There are some dynamics outside of the students and teachers that make it almost impossible to focus on teaching and learning,” he wrote in a statement that was read out loud during the April 18 school board meeting. 

That’s a very diplomatic way of saying: “You people suck!”

To Niehoff’s credit, he was always pretty diplomatic in dealing with the tomfoolery that caused high school drama—and it wasn’t the students! It was parents and other adults who didn’t have children in school. It was whoever decided they needed to hop onto the school’s “transparency” Facebook page, or clamber into a school board meeting to chastise, or circulate rumors due to what a teacher was perceived to have taught in the classroom/a basketball coach was perceived to have told his players/a diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator was perceived to have indoctrinated students to do. 

The unmitigated gall of these adults! Santa Ynez “community members” felt the need to comment on a professional educator’s sexuality, to the point where that person was placed on what equates to administrative leave! Adriana Reyes, the school’s DEI (that’s diversity, equity, inclusion for all of you adults in the reading room) coordinator, helped facilitate anti-bullying events at the high school during No Place for Hate week on campus.

Maybe she should have been called in to focus on parents’ pro-bullying agenda, but instead, administrators asked Reyes to steer clear of campus while the hullabaloo over rainbow-painted crosswalks blew over. 

“Community members are claiming this was her way of ‘spreading her gay agenda,’ completely disregarding the fact that No Place for Hate is entirely student led,” a statement from the high school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance said. 

Really. Adults need something better to do with their time. Get off social media. Go get some of that angst out by climbing a mountain. Learn yourself by reading a book. 

I’m dumbfounded that community members felt the need to proclaim their feelings in such a hateful manner. It’s crazy that an educator would get attacked for doing her job—and then be asked to sit this one out. No wonder Niehoff is over it. Crosswalk-gate was the icing on the cake. 

Ironically, the school board brought Niehoff in thinking that he could help combat some of the political challenges the area presents to the school district. Ha! Santa Ynez won’t have that kind of attitude. No way, nohow. 

“This is my third year on the board, and it hasn’t been easy; our community has a lot of challenges,” board member José Juan Ibarra said at the April 18 meeting. “There’s been a lot of tension in our schools, and our students and faculty and staff are yearning for change. Students were calling for a better lived experience on campus.”

That means keep your political baggage to yourself—off campus. Take a chill pill. Smoke a joint. There’s more to life than ideological hate and anger.

The canary is almost speechless, but not quite. Send tips to [email protected].