The vice president of the Roseville Community Schools Board of Education is facing public criticism over racist, Islamaphobic, and transphobic posts on his Facebook page.
A group of around 20 protestors gathered outside the district's administration building before a school board meeting on Monday night. The protestors moved inside during the meeting and urged the school board to remove Alfredo Francesconi from his position.
Meriam Uppal was one of the protestors. She is a Pakistani Muslim woman who attended Roseville public schools. Uppal also has family members who currently attend school in the district.
“For him to encourage this type of racist behavior and ideology and Islamophobic ideology is really scary to me,” Uppal said.
“[Francesconi] has freedom of speech, but when you’re in a leadership position, you shouldn’t be saying these types of things."
Brittany Bolton, who also grew up attending Roseville public schools, said allowing Francesconi to stay on the board sends the wrong message to children in the district.
“We’re not gonna let these kinds of things go on. We’re not gonna let people like Alfredo negatively influence our children and make them believe that it’s ok to hate people for any reason, especially for things like their race, their religion, their sexuality," Bolton said.
This isn’t the first time Francesconi has come under fire for controversial Facebook posts.
Since 2013, he's posted at least a dozen pictures from right-wing Facebook groups that target Muslims, transgender people and the Black Lives Matter movement. He also faced backlash from the posts in 2013 and 2015, but did not lose his position on the school board.
School board president Theresa Genest said Francesconi is sorry for his comments. But she said the board doesn’t have the ability to remove him for what he says in private, even in a public forum like Facebook.
“We’ve all talked to him about it before, and I wish he would stop, but I can’t control what someone does on their own computer,” Genest said.
She told the crowd of protestors that Roseville schools are inclusive to all students.
“We take all people in Roseville. We’re glad to have all kinds,” Genest said. “We respect all of them, and I think they respect all of us.”
Genest said she was unsure whether or not she would vote Fancesconi off the board if given the chance to do so.
That's not a satisfying answer, says Meriam Uppal.
“I think it says a lot, it speaks volumes that the [school board] president Theresa Genets and superintendent John Kment are allowing him to stay on the board,” she said.