Kathleen Heard is the president of California School Employees Association, Chapter 54 – which is the bargaining unit for non-teacher employees of the Anaheim City School District. She’s also of a member of the CSEA’s Political Action for Classified Employees (PACE) committee.

On the morning of January 14, a group of Palm Lane Elementary parents turned in a petition with several hundred signatures seeking to re-start Palm Lane as a charter school, as is their right under the Parent Trigger Law.

At the ACSD Board of Education meeting that evening, Ms. Heard took an outrageous verbal shot at these parents during the union “updates” portion of the board agenda. She called them cowards.

“I would also like to say that CSEA stands behind our Palm Lane students, and I will be speaking about this later. And I notice that some people are missing…that we thought were gonna be here. I call that cowardice.”

You can listen to her here:

How can Ms. Heard pretend to “stand behind Palm Lane students” while calling their parents cowards? It’s a stunning display of arrogance and contempt for those parents. There’s no delicate way to put this other than to ask where does she get off speaking that way about any parent with children at Palm Lane Elementary or any other ACSD school? Especially when they did nothing more than exercise their rights as parents under state law in an attempt to reform their school into something they believe will provide a better education. Organizing, knocking on doors, asking other parents to sign the petition in the face of misinformation, falsehoods and hostility from the union and the district – that is hardly the behavior of cowards.

And how did her fellow unionists in the audience react? With cheers and applause! They couldn’t even feign embarrassed silence.

This is the sort of behavior that fuels the charter school movement and pushes parents to the tipping point where they decide enough is enough and take action for the sake of their children. Folks like Ms. Heard and other school unionists ought to wise up and stop acting as if it is an “attack on teachers” every time parents speak up, question the status quo or desire more control over the governance of their local school.