CUSD Trustee Resigns, Citing Public Harassment and Personal Conflict

CUSD+Trustee+Pamela+Braunstein+stepped+down+from+her+position+last+week%2C+citing+harassment+from+the+public%2C+and+differences+between+other+trustees.+Pictured%2C+a+member+of+the+community+speaks+at+a+board+meeting.+

Eva Smedeby

CUSD Trustee Pamela Braunstein stepped down from her position last week, citing harassment from the public, and differences between other trustees. Pictured, a member of the community speaks at a board meeting.

Nikki Iyer, Staff Writer

Trustee Pamela Braunstein announced her resignation from the Capistrano Unified School District board last week, citing differences between other trustees, and alleged harassment she received from the public. 

Braunstein presided over Area 2, which includes Ladera Ranch, Rancho Mission Viejo, Coto de Caza, Las Flores, and parts of San Juan Capistrano. 

Her resignation came after a 4-3 vote against student mask choice for the interim time until masks became optional, on March 11; Braunstein voted against the bill.  

“Some of my fellow CUSD Trustees have been proposing policies that aren’t compliant with the law, which, if they were to succeed, (would) not only hurt the district but put me in an untenable position ethically and professionally as an attorney,” Braunstein announced in a statement. “This, along with the never-ending, organized harassment by a certain vocal minority led me to the unfortunate conclusion that I had to resign for the safety of myself and my family.”

However, Braunstein’s resignation allegedly follows the accumulation of multiple factors, not just COVID-19 related tensions.

“There are a whole bunch of issues playing into it,” said Chief Communications Officer Ryan Burris to the East Bay Times. “It’s not just masks and COVID. It’s critical race theory; it’s sex education. People feel strongly about a lot of issues.” 

This, along with the never-ending, organized harassment by a certain vocal minority led me to the unfortunate conclusion that I had to resign for the safety of myself and my family.”

— Pamela Braunstein

Burris also said to the East Bay Times that CUSD board meetings have recently been more attended and volatile. Thus, the district has hired more security guards, asked for sheriff assistance, and put up fences for extra security measures. 

Her resignation was unanticipated, announced just hours before it was effective, according to Burris. Further, the Board has two options to fill Braunstein’s spot.

“The Board will either appoint an individual to fill the vacancy or they will vote to hold an election, which would be in November. If the Board moves to appoint, the entire process is public, including applications and interviews,” said Burris.

The public has the opportunity to attend all board meetings, including those regarding the appointing process or election. At the next board meeting, on March 16, the remaining trustees will decide how to approach the situation, and which option to take.