Attorney General Rob Bonta announced August 4 his office is conducting a civil rights investigation of Chino Valley Unified School District after the school board approved a policy in July requiring school staff to inform parents if their child's gender identify changes, such as their name or pronouns. Parents will also be notified if their child uses an opposite-sex locker room or participates in an opposite-sex sports program, Bonta said.
The school district serves approximately 32,000 students in more than 30 schools in San Bernadino County.
What might seem like common sense to many is viewed as dangerous – literally – to Attorney General Bonta. The school district policy “threatens the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students vulnerable to harassment and potential abuse from peers and family members unaccepting of their gender identity,” he said in the August 4 announcement.
Bonta, a father of three, was a state assemblyman when he was appointed to the powerful statewide office in 2021 by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
In a similar incident, Gov. Newsom threatened to fine the Temecula Valley school district $1.5 million after its school board voted to reject a social studies book for elementary-age children. That book idolizes Harvey Milk, the late homosexual rights pioneer, and so it was rejected by the school board.
Sonja Shaw, who is president of the Chino Valley school board, tells AFN the school district will “do the right thing” regarding any lawful cooperation with Bonta and his public office.
“We are going provide the documents,” she says, “because we have nothing to hide."
Beyond an attempt to bully and intimidate Chino Valley, which Shaw suspects is Bonta’s real purpose, she tells AFN the attorney general has not identified why the school district is being investigated.
"You have to usually be very specific in this case," says Shaw.
In fact, the attorney general’s buzzword-filled announcement about being “inclusive” did not cite a state law China Valley is violating, which would not be hard to do in the liberal state.
Shaw also says the Office of the Attorney General never served Chino Valley in writing, which she insists is required per state law. The school learned via an email.
"Technically, California law says that documents may be served by mail," said Shaw. "Service by fax or email is only allowed if you get written permission agreeing to fax or email service from the person that is being served. We never gave them permission just to send it to us through email."
For this story, citing the state's Code of Civil Procedure, the Office of Attorney General told AFN state law allows email "when a document may be served by mail."
"Beyond that, to protect its integrity, we cannot comment further on an ongoing investigation," the unnamed spokesperson said via email.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from the California Office of Attorney General.