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:
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.