The Elk Grove Unified School District on Aug. 28 responded to a letter from an Elk Grove City Council candidate who demanded that district officials take action against comments made by one of its trustees, Bobbie Singh-Allen.
Singh-Allen is one of two candidates hoping to unseat Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, who is seeking his third term in this November’s election. He has served as the city’s mayor since 2016, when he became the nation’s first Hmong mayor.
In his Aug. 17 letter, Ali Moua, an attorney who is running for the Elk Grove City Council’s District 1 seat this November, claimed that Singh-Allen owes the Hmong community an apology for her alleged derogatory comments about that community.
Moua’s letter provides Singh-Allen with options, including producing a formal written apology to the Hmong community and taking a cultural sensitivity class.
He also presented options of having the Sacramento County Grand Jury or a third-party committee investigate Singh-Allen for potential violations of the district and board members’ policies, and ethic and education codes.
Moua wrote that if Singh-Allen refused to accept any option, the letter’s supporters would ask for her immediate resignation from the school board.
He gave the district administration an Aug. 31 deadline to respond.
In its Aug. 28 response letter to Moua, the district dismissed his claims as a city election political matter.
“It is the district’s policy to provide a safe school environment that provides equal opportunities for all students, but it does not have jurisdiction to take action against a board member for conduct that occurs during the board member’s personal time, unrelated to a school or district matter,” wrote Kanitra Lopez, a legal compliance specialist for the district.
“The alleged conduct that is referenced in your correspondence took place outside the scope of Ms. Singh-Allen’s duties as a board member for the district.”
Lopez also noted that the district does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and “respects and values our Hmong students and the Hmong community at-large.”
The allegations against Singh-Allen
Singh-Allen is among several local women who alleged they were harassed by Ly’s associates or supporters. Those allegations include claims that Ly used the Hmong familial clan system to complete such actions.
On June 30, Singh-Allen used her personal Facebook page to refer to the Hmong familial clan system as a “controlling and intimidating system used to attack and silence these women.”
In a separate statement posted by Singh-Allen on July 3 on her personal Facebook page, she claimed that she was harassed by Ly’s associates after she was appointed to the Elk Grove school board in 2012. She mentioned that she believes that alleged action occurred because she endorsed Ly’s school board opponent, Jake Rambo. Ly defeated the incumbent Rambo in that year’s election. Singh-Allen and Ly served together on the Elk Grove school board until 2014, when Ly was elected to the Elk Grove City Council.
“Days following the appointment, Steve Ly and his (Hmong) clansmen came after me,” Singh-Allen wrote in her July 3 Facebook comment. “They contacted the district to find out how to contest the appointment and petition to have it overturned.”
Others alleging that they were harassed by Ly’s associates at different times include Elk Grove School Trustee Nancy Chaires Espinoza, and Cosumnes Community Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno. Espinoza ran against Ly in the 2014 Elk Grove City Council race and she claimed that Ly’s associates created a whisper campaign to harm her reputation.
Ly has continuously denied that he had his associates harass the accusers, and he shared his belief that his accusers were harassed, and stated that he was sympathetic of the pain they endured.
Four City Council members are endorsing Singh-Allen in her bid for mayor, and they requested that the Sacramento County Grand Jury investigate the allegations against the mayor.
Moua, Singh-Allen respond to school district’s letter
Moua this week told the Citizen that he was disappointed with the district’s response to his Aug. 17 letter.
“As concerned parents of EGUSD students, we are disappointed in the EGUSD’s (Aug. 28) response in addressing our concerns and fears for our children’s safety and the implicit bias our children will potentially face in our schools and communities,” he said.
“As parents and as a community, we will continue to actively stand up against injustice, inequality and discrimination. We will continue to stand up against hatred and harmful language against our community. We will not tolerate language or conduct that incite hate. We will continue to engage with the EGUSD until a satisfactory resolution is obtained.”
Singh-Allen expressed satisfaction that the district did not conclude that she violated the oath she took with the district to “represent and advocate for the more than 60,000 students the district represents.”
She added that the Hmong community is suffering due to being misled by Ly and Moua.
“I do continue to feel a great deal of sorrow and empathy towards the Hmong community, not only for anything I may have said, as I mentioned (previously) on Facebook, and that out of context were hurtful, but also for the pain they are suffering because they continue to be misled by people in their own community like Steve Ly and Ali Moua,” Singh-Allen said.
Protests against Singh-Allen
On Aug. 28, about 150 people attended a protest rally against Singh-Allen.
The event was organized by Elk Grove residents Mia Foster, Marie Vue and Sai Vang, who claim that Singh-Allen made racially discriminatory comments targeting the Hmong community.
Among those participating in the event were Sean Yang, EGUSD candidate for District 3 and Maureen Craft, who is running for the City Council District 3 seat.
Although he was not present at the protest, Ly submitted a comment that was read by a speaker at the event.
A portion of that statement directly addresses the comments made by Singh-Allen.
“Clearly members of the community were offended by Ms. Singh Allen’s comments,” he wrote. “I would just reiterate that racism has no place in politics or our society, period.
“Political campaigns can be grueling, hard-fought contests – but they should be focused on the issues and who can best deliver and lead the community, instead of name-calling, baseless character attacks and insensitivity to the culture of others. I have reached out previously to Ms. Singh-Allen to discuss these issues, and I remain willing to do so.”
Another event protesting Singh-Allen’s comments will be presented on Sept. 16 at 8 a.m. by the Hmong American Ad Hoc (HAAH).
The event, called the March for Justice, will begin at the Cosumnes Community Services District headquarters at Elk Grove Boulevard and conclude at the Trigg Education Center.
An announcement on the HAAH Facebook page describes the reason for the march.
“Elk Grove Unified School District continues to dismiss the harm that Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen has inflicted onto the Hmong community,” the announcement declared.