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CUSD Board Member Amy Hanacek Praises Student Who Delivered Divisive, Woke Speech

Before a packed Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) boardroom, Trustee Amy Hanacek, who represents CUSD’s Area 1, clapped in support of a speech that had just captured the room's attention. The speaker was Tyler Pearce—a graduating senior from San Clemente High School and the student advisor for CUSD—and the speech in question was nine minutes of politically motivated and divisive rhetoric aimed at concerned parents and the Board’s conservative minority.

For context, Pearce writes for both his school’s student newspaper—the Triton Times—and CUSD Against Racism, a “student and women-led organization devoted to combating racism and amplifying BIPOC voices.” The latter has condemned the school district for not explicitly supporting Black Lives Matter and, among other things, demanded that CUSD schools “[mandate] ethnic studies courses,” “[eliminate] the Mission Project and field trips to missions,” and “[begin] the school day with Native American land acknowledgments.”

CUSD is, of course, not a political entity and its Board seats, in theory, nonpartisan positions. This may explain why the school district has chosen not to align with BLM, a hyperpartisan organization founded by proud Marxists who have openly bragged about using BLM to explicitly “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” and other foundations of American society. 

Nevertheless, partisanship still finds its way around the boardroom in altogether subtler ways. Hanacek was all too quick to praise Pearce, despite his history of divisive political activity and, in so doing, forsake the impartiality expected of her position. 

In his address during the May 15, 2024 meeting, Pearce referred to the parental notification policy brought forward by Board Members Lisa Davis and Judy Bullockus as a "homophobic outing policy." He then lauded the protestors who rallied against this policy, many of whom were organized by the Gay Straight Alliance and the LGBTQ Center Orange County as part of a deliberate effort to dominate the public comment period and prevent other community members from voicing their opinions.

Pearce also fired back at parents advocating for the removal of sexually explicit materials from the classroom, accusing them of spreading "hate speech" and "misinformation." Earlier in the speech, he said that his role as student representative has challenged him to come into contact with viewpoints “that make [his] stomach flip.”

He cites My Shadow is Pink, a children’s book about a boy who likes to wear dresses without parents approval, as an example of a work that parents have tried to remove from classrooms. It contains lines like “Her shadow, she hides it. Her shadow likes girls.” Pearce describes himself as someone who related to the book and claims that “nobody is converting children to sexuality but rather promoting healthy open-mindedness and normalization of marginalized communities.”

Pearce concluded by asserting that “the opportunities and privileges we experience are not uniformly distributed;” and while we must “acknowledge these disparities,” we must also understand that “these aren’t issues that can be fixed through board meetings or conversations.”

That is a hauntingly vague implication. 

Elsewhere, Pearce has been quoted saying “the moment we let individual ideologies infiltrate public schools, we endanger the very principle of education and erode the trust of the students.” Where was that mentality when he made the decision to deliver a divisive, partisan stump speech that insinuates that many within CUSD are homophobic, hateful, and misinformed? If Pearce believes that letting “individual ideologies” infiltrate public schools is problematic, why did he make his remarks revolve around his own individual ideology? Is his political persuasion so elevated—so above and beyond reproach?

Hanacek seems to believe so. 

"Tyler, you have been grace under fire," said Hanacek in her introduction of Pearce. "I appreciate your professional demeanor [and] clarity in how you have rendered that important student voice and I can't thank you enough."

Pearce is young, ambitious, courageous, and articulate. It doesn’t change the fact that his speech was, in the eyes of many, wildly inappropriate for a school board meeting. 


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