Bonita Teachers Union Condemns Board Member’s Anti-Mask Posts

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Krista Chakmak, Bonita Unified School District Governing Board Member Photo: Courtesy Bonita Unified School District website

By Joshua Bay

Editor’s note, Feb. 12, 8:20 p.m.: The Bonita Unified School District Superintendent’s Office released a statement acknowledging Bonita Unified Governing Board Member Krista Chakmak’s social media post, stating “the Board of Education and the District want to assure the community we are fully committed to following all laws and rules set by our governing bodies which includes wearing face coverings on all District properties.”

The letter also mentioned Board Bylaw 9010, Public Statements, explaining how “board members may participate in public discourse on civic or community interest matters and have a right to express their personal views freely. Board members are responsible for identifying personal viewpoints as such, not as the viewpoint of the Board of Education or Bonita Unified School District. To be clear, the comments made regarding not wearing a face covering do not represent those of the Board of Education or the District.” The Board of Education will hold a Special Board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16 to “discuss and reaffirm the District’s commitment to the safety of our students, staff, and the communities we serve.” SDCP will continue to update this story as it evolves.

Editor’s note, Feb. 12, 12:15 p.m.: This story is breaking and will continue to be updated with comment from school officials as they are made available. San Dimas Community Post has reached out to all governing board members, Superintendent Carl Coles and the Bonita Unified Teachers Association for comment.

Bonita Unified Teachers Association has condemned social media posts made by Bonita Unified Governing Board Member Krista Chakmak that declared her opposition to wearing a face mask in public and encouraged others to follow her lead. 

Chakmak, who was appointed to the BUSD School Board on May 2020 and re-elected in November 2020, posted a photo of herself via Instagram on Monday, Feb. 8 with the following caption:

Screenshot of Krista Chakmak’s Instagram post from Monday, Feb. 8.

“Smiling! Just got back from the grocery store where I have worn a mask for almost a year. Today, no more. I have been miserable for most of the past year. Knowing stuff didn’t make sense, line up, just not right, I’ve done my research, kept up on CDC, controlled the controllables (my own health, vitamins, exercise, environment).”

Chakmak then encouraged her followers to also stop wearing masks in public. 

“I kept being told ‘just go along with it’, ‘what’s the big deal?’, ‘don’t you care about others?’, ‘this will end someday’. Well, 1 of those statements is correct, this is ending, at least for me and im hoping for you too. I know there are so many more people feeling this also but just feel stuck, scared and like you’re going to be judged. Well, you are! But if we don’t start taking our power back now, this will only get worse. So, judge me, hate me, talk about me or join me!! Most importantly, do whatever your soul tells you to do!!”

On the same day, Chakmak posted another photo of an Abraham Lincoln quote about discipline to Instagram.

Screenshot of Krista Chakmak’s Instagram post from Monday, Feb. 8.

“What would I like right now? To shop without being harassed, personal choice, a peaceful experience and respect. What I want most? My children to know that I fought everyday for their rights and freedoms, to not be told what’s ‘best’ for my personal health and the freedom to live how I want to. I have already learned a lot today.”

Chakmak also posted her experience at a Big 5 Sporting Goods and a Dollar Tree in Pomona, CA. 

“@big5 in Pomona, Ca I will never step foot in your store again. I will not spend a single dime at your business. My sons and I were followed around the store, asked several times to wear a mask ‘because they want everyone in the store to be comfortable’ also, no one was near us or even in the store,” Chakmak wrote. “We left and went to @dollartree Pomona, ca where we walked freely, never questioned and were treated respectfully. Another customer walked up to me and said ‘thank you!’ And took her mask off.”

On Thursday, Feb. 11, Chakmak released a statement via Instagram retracting her opinions after facing criticism from the community.

Screenshot of Krista Chakmak’s Instagram post from Thursday, Feb. 11.

“In a moment of frustration, I stated that I would no longer be wearing a mask, taking back my power. After reflecting on the impact of my words, I have deleted the post. Like so many of us, I am anxious to resume our way of life that existed before the pandemic. However, I realize there are still stages to go through to reopen our schools safely. I do intend to comply with state and local regulations to allow the safe reopening to happen.”

Chakmak also stated that her opinions do not reflect the views of Bonita Unified School District or her fellow board members.

“I have the utmost respect for our teachers, classified staff, and management, working tirelessly during distance learning and preparing our schools for reopening. I would never want to jeopardize the health and safety of anyone within the BUSD community. I sincerely apologize to any BUSD employee that has had to address my personal statement taking time out of their already busy day. I am continuing to learn and grow in my role as a member of the Bonita Unified Board of Education. I am looking forward to serving our education community together in our mission to prepare every student to live their purpose.”

The Bonita Unified Teachers Association Executive Board issued a statement on Facebook condemning Chakmak’s original posts Thursday afternoon, stating their mission to return students, faculty and staff to in-person learning does not align with Chakmak’s opinions. 

Screenshot of Bonita Unified Teachers Association statement post from Thursday, Feb. 11.

“Ms. Chakmak’s publicly-stated position on pandemic safety and her encouragement that others follow suit is counterproductive and even detrimental to that mission. The BUTA Executive Board would like to assure the families of our students, as well as the community we serve, that safety is our number one priority. We will continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC, as well as the wisdom and expertise of health care professionals in order to keep our students and their families safe while continuing their education.”

Chakmak declined to comment further on Friday, Feb. 12 at 9:55 a.m.

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10 Comments

  1. This is a pattern of poor behavior by leaders in this city. It must stop. We know that masks save lives. We know that our hospitals are full. We know that leaders should promote safe practices. We are not seeing that completely on our area. We know that four of our city council members are operating against the advisement of professionals meeting in person without barriers. We see pictures of their spouses wearing anti masking apparel. We hear the administration of local social media sites promoting breaking mandates using services against closures. We see previous mayoral candidates doing what Krista did on video purposely not wearing masks in our area businesses as protest. What this does is hurt those businesses and endanger all of us. No place for any of this in leadership.

    • First of all, the government is just trying to control us. The governor is the one doing the damage to businesses and our schools. We all have basic human rights. If people are so afraid of contracting this virus, then they can stay home or wear their masks. A lot more people I know feel this way but do not want attention like this thrown at them! Poor Krista to be bold enough to stand up for herself! Is BUSD really concerned with the students? Why are we not back in school yet. They should be using their money to file suit with the state. But then again, most teacher unions are Democrats! How come every other state in the country can be back at least part-time and have youth sports?? The damage to our kids is worse than getting the virus: depression, suicide, weight gain, social inadequacies, falling behind academically and athletically, etc… The government has put everyone in a panic and made us fearful. What are the real numbers?? People die every year with the flu but we never had to wear a mask until the Corona Virus. She has a right to not wear a mask and voice her personal beliefs on her personal page. I go to church every Sunday with no mask. My nephew in basic training was quarantined for 10 days and then in week 4 of training, they all came down with COVID and they always wore masks. It’s not all about the masks! This was leaked by a poor loser in the election who lost by 20 votes!

  2. This is disheartening. She has shown her true colors and her agenda is clear whether she publicly posts it or not. She obviously has followers who have elected her to such a position and will follow her lead and obviously does not have the public health or our children as a priority.

  3. Leaders who speak and act.like she did is bad and counterproductive to the mission. Teachers and students health and safety are of utmost concern.
    She has no place in the leadership of the BUSD.

  4. How can we trust our children to Bonita School District when they have someone like Chamak on the board? Why was she not removed? These board members are at held at a higher standard. Of course, we all have freedom of speech but there consequences our actions.

  5. I am a hospital chaplain. I have served those dying and dead from COVID-19. Ms. Chakmak has not. We are all tired, but we are alive and hope is on the way as we get enough vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Speed is critical to minimize mutations away from the vaccines. Until then, while I am in the hospital and my wife is working in research on COVID-19 related Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), I need to trust that our elected officials will ensure the safety of our children. This will require a higher level of vaccination and safety measures. Leaders must be role models. This requires great patience, but there is hope and we must keep our eyes on hope. Outbursts that politicize the issue and ignore science have been my greatest fear. Ms. Chakmak must be removed from her position immediately. She is unfit to serve. She is unfit to be a steward of our children and their well-being. I cannot describe to you what COVID-19 can do to the entire body. What it does to families. It would cause vicarious trauma. We are improving in our treatments. We need to stay the course. My hope is to return to school in the Fall. It would be very easy for these numbers to reverse and for the trends to worsen, especially with the new variants, if we become impatient. I take great hope in the progress we are making. I, too, am tired. Tired of exposures and near misses. Tired of the deaths of both patients and providers. Tired of each call from Infectious Disease and the thought that I may be infected and may have brought it home. And when I come home to rest, I am tired of being attacked for wearing my mask and tired of people placing my family and others at risk with false bravado. Enough. I ask 3 things. 1. Wear the mask. 2. Keep faith with one another – we are one another’s keepers. We are almost through. 3. I ask for the immediate resignation or removal of Ms. Chakmak. She is neither a scientist nor a healthcare worker and her claims of keeping up with the science are simply wrong.

  6. Ms. Chakmak must be removed from her position immediately. She is unfit to serve. She is unfit to be a steward of our children and their well-being thinking solmenly of her own feelings instead of community as a whole. She should not resume her position on the board continuing to decide for our schools, staff, and teachers. When you have a public position your personal issues should not lead your decisions, what works for the greater good and our large school population should be main focus.

  7. While I personally do not believe in the statement made by Krista, I am appalled at the fact that so many people seem to forget that she too has a right to free speech – her views, whether you agree or not, are hers to have. She did not make this statement on behalf of BUSD, so to call for her removal because you do not agree with her views is ridiculous and also has no merit. I am more disgusted by the candidates who lost to her that felt the need to circulate this for a story.

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