SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah. (ABC4) — A petition claiming Utah State School Board Member, Natalie Cline violated part of the Utah State Board of Education’s educational equity program is gaining traction.
It has more than 3,500 signatures as of 6:30 p.m. on Monday and is calling for Cline’s resignation.
Cline represents parts of Salt Lake, Tooele and Utah counties.
It all stems from Facebook comments that some say are hurtful, derogatory, and out of line.
The Utah Pride Center and Black Lives Matter said Cline crossed the line and condemns the statements.
ABC4 reached out to Cline via phone and email and did not hear back.
“We read the comments over the course of the weekend with great concern,” said Rob Moolmna, the executive director of Utah Pride Center.
The Utah Pride Center is concerned with Natalie Cline’s comments on Facebook among other groups.
Within the last month, Cline has posted on Facebook saying schools need to stop critical race theory, which examines how race and law play a role in our society and culture.
“Comments like that are read by young people, are read by teachers, and are read by parents and they create a feeling of unease and a feeling of dangerous energy,” said Moolman.
Moolman leads the Utah Pride Center and feels there is a lack of knowledge and understanding that leads to these types of comments.
“It’s just an opportunity for teachers to go ‘oh my goodness’ there is a difference in this classroom and that is to be celebrated not feared,” said Moolman.
Cline is a first-time board member and represents parts of Salt Lake, Tooele and Utah counties.
She wrote on her personal Facebook page she feels “the latest target of the mob”
The Utah Board of Education also issued a comment that said, “the Utah State Board of Education has no comment on the situation with Board Member Natalie J. Cline.”
Mark Peterson, the public relations director for the USBE said, “By way of background, it’s my understanding Utah does not have a recall provision for elected officials.”
Peterson said the only way for Cline to get removed from her elected position is impeachment.
“One lone voice on the internet is not what you should be paying attention to,” said Moolman.
This petition has no legal bearing on Cline’s status as a board member and these are just claims against her.
We, of course, will be following this and if Cline releases a statement, we will let you know.
As of Monday, this will not be talked about at the next Utah Board of Education meeting.
Below is a copy of USBE’s official statement on the matter:
In response to recent inquiries regarding Board Member removal, Utah State Board of Education leadership, consisting of Chair Mark Huntsman, and Vice Chairs Laura Belnap and Cindy Davis, issued the following statement:
“The Utah State Board of Education supports and welcomes the continued dialogue regarding civic engagement and the election process. Over the past 24 hours, we have received messages both in support and in opposition of a member of the Board who was recently elected through this process.
As members of the Board, we hold our positions as state representatives following a governed public election. We are required by state code to run elections through the same process that is used to elect all other state officials, including legislators, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, etc. The state law surrounding the continuation of our membership during each of our elected terms is, therefore, the same as with all other elected state officials.
The board has no legal authority regarding the removal or maintenance of any state board member’s seat. The only methods of removal are impeachment pursuant to Utah Code 77-5-1, resignation of the seat before the fulfillment of a four year term, or through the regular election process when a board member’s term has ended.
We respect and encourage the involvement of our constituents statewide, including all of our valued stakeholders. We will continue to work hard to represent all of our respective communities, and we remain committed to our duties of providing strategic vision and direction for Utah’s education system, while enabling local flexibility and accountability.”