It’s About Bill Fanning’s Legacy… It’s About Our Kids.

From time to time I’m made privy to email and presentations to Council and the BOUSD Board to offer comments and maybe the occasional edit. Such is the case for Drew Hefner’s statement to the school board.

A Brea resident for over two decades and twice over a Fanning parent, Drew has helped spearhead the opposition to the fallacious allegations coming from a handful of out-of-town wannabe social activists.

He has been kind enough to allow me to publish his remarks here with the hope that they encourage others to attend next Monday night’s meeting and to speak their mind as well.

kidDrew Hefner’s remarks.

I am speaking up to urge the citizens of Brea to do the right thing and call for the retention of William E. Fanning’s name with Fanning Elementary.

I was surprised to learn that instead of being a local, grass-roots effort, those demanding that Mr. Fanning’s name be removed from Fanning Elementary are mostly outsiders to Brea: from the OC Weekly (Costa Mesa), the Voice of the OC (Santa Ana), OC Human Relations (Santa Ana), the Fullerton Observer, the Democratic Party of Orange County (Orange), and a Facebook group, founded just last December, predominantly of La Habra residents.

The reasons offered by those calling for the change are not supported by facts, but instead are a conflated mess of opinion and conjecture coupled with a desire to be on the right side of history.

The facts related to this issue are clear.

Social media comments and on-line reports dating back to 2011, and resurrected in 2017, suggested a connection between W.E. Fanning and the KKK are false.

The primary evidence offered is a list of names found in the Anaheim Heritage Center’s collection which is purported to be a list of KKK members.

This list and associated information was examined by the Brea Historical Society’s Museum Curator in 2017 per a request from the BOUSD Superintendent.

The final report, dated 30 November 2017, concluded: “Based on the interpretation of the data, we find no credible evidence to support the petitioner’s allegations”, meaning Mr. Fanning did not have a verifiable membership in the KKK.

In addition, the report stated that no evidence in newspaper articles or personal recollections was found to indicate Mr. Fanning was in any way racially motivated.

From deception to distraction.

Claims of Brea’s racist past, including suggestions of it being a “Sundown Town”, as well as Brea demographics of the 1920’s showing little or no diversity have been offered to corroborate the links between Brea and the KKK.

Though somewhat historically accurate, there is no link to Mr. Fanning… period. It’s a smokescreen and nothing else.

The outsiders disparaging the Fanning name through unsubstantiated claims are little more than bullies.

Mr. Fanning’s past has been reviewed, allegations of his association with the KKK are a toxic brew of rumor, innuendo and conjecture intended to play on people’s emotions.

It reeks of both slander and libel.

It is also clear, stated publically in their meetings, that most of the BOUSD Board does not believe the allegations connecting Fanning to the KKK.

Doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.

Some of the Board have chosen reluctantly the removal of the Fanning name but only out of frustration and a desire to “move on.”

I am one of a very large and growing number of Brea residents, parents, teachers and administrators who do not want to see the name removed when doing so is not supported by facts.

To emphasize, let me be clear: Taking a stand to maintain Mr. Fanning’s name on the school is not the same thing as defending a racist or deeming the allegations as nothing more than ancient history that doesn’t matter today.

I still live in this community and care very much about both our image, and the impact that racist acts could have on our fellow residents, schools and businesses.

The BOUSD Board needs to embrace the results of the well-documented Brea Historical Society report, put an end to this made-up controversy and retain Mr. Fanning’s name as part of any re-branding of the school.

They must not allow Mr. Fanning’s name and reputation to be destroyed by those who have disregarded the facts and the truth in pursuit of their own suspect agendas.

Amen Mr. Hefner. Amen.

Except for the couple of dozen troublemakers who, for several years, have failed miserably to make their case against William Fanning, everyone else agrees that he was truly a pioneer in Brea education, that he stood up against segregation and laid the foundation for the schools serving our children today.

Our children deserve no less than the truth and we’re obligated to give it to them.

If the BOUSD Board gives in to the bullies and leans on one of their indefensible excuses to change the school’s name and discard the Fanning legacy in the process… that is the truth we will share with our kids.

And if this is an example of the weak willed and ill-informed leadership we can expect going forward, what option besides a recall would put Brea schools back on course?

Whether you’re able to be there Monday night or have the time to send the board an email… at least make yourself these two promises.

My kids will know the truth. My kids will not be bullied.


21 thoughts on “It’s About Bill Fanning’s Legacy… It’s About Our Kids.

  1. Retain the Fanning name, already spent too much time and money that could be put to better use for our kids!

  2. Another witchhunt. Leave the Fanning name on the school. They are good people and don’t deserve this.

    It is costly and unnecessary, and why are outsiders who didn’t grow up there allowed to have their opinions listened to more than those of us who did grow up there and know what really went on?

    Do not change the school’s name, it was named to honor a good man and educator.

    • Linda… the Fanning family has been deeply hurt by these ridiculous allegations. The Constitution gives these detractors the ability to spread their poison… a right I’m sure William Fanning would have strongly supported. It’s ironic.

  3. Rick I have known you for a number of years and we owe it to our kids and our future generations to stand up for the Fanning family and to expose this kind of stupidity.

    I have lived in Brea since 1972 and raised a good family in this town and it has meant a lot to see this town grow over the years and I plan on being here for many more years.

    I feel as so many other people in this city, put bigotry to rest before it spreads further. I am proud to be part of Brea and do respect so many folks that I have met over the years in this Community.

  4. Hey, everyone, don’t forget that Superintendent Brad Mason equated education to a business last Spring when he announced the plans to turn Fanning into a Code to the Future school and increase marketing to attract children from outside the district.

    He said, “We all know that education is a business, and it’s all about marketing.”

    That marketing includes rebranding the school, per Mason, so there has been no expense incurred. Since the board’s mission is to increase out-of-district enrollment, you might want to keep that in mind when you use the term “outsiders” as a bad word.

    • Natalie… What Dr. Mason understands about business, marketing and branding wouldn’t fill a thimble. The investment in marketing required to turn “Code to the Future” into a viable brand exceeds the districts budget a thousand times over.

      I have 45+ years under my belt as a professional marketing and advertising exec… having owned and operated a successful ad agency for many years. I’m ready to go head-to-head with Dr. Mason whenever he’s ready.

      Moves of this magnitude require far greater transparency with BOUSD parents and teachers. I’ll wager the real stakeholders have little clue what they’ve signed off on and would welcome an opportunity to revisit the matter.

      Let’s get our kids out of the “underperforming” category before we start wholesaling our services to outsiders. And outsiders have zero business sticking their nose in our business.

      • Unfortunately for your line of reasoning, California law allows students to attend schools in other districts with an interdistrict transfer, and the Brown Act allows anyone to come to school board meetings. So, that pretty much gives anyone the right to “stick their nose in your business,” because it’s their business, too.

        I guess you are right, though, about the money angle. You could ask the board to change their mind and back out of the marketing. I’ve seen the budget they’ve approved to implement the program, though, and I seriously doubt they are going to back out now. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

      • Natalie… your mastery of state law is only surpassed by your ability to use lateral references to it as a distraction from the point made. The handful of wannabe activists are, for the most part, not from Brea (outsiders) and have intentions focused more upon drawing attention to themselves than to some century old racist issue with proof acceptable to any reasonably thoughtful person.

        What has BOUSD budgeted to “rebrand” a couple of Brea schools? Whatever it is it will be woefully insufficient. Backing out now, redirecting the funds to raising the performance level of their students, would be a much better idea.

        Mason’s comment that education is a business is a gaffe of monumental proportions, one I’m sure you’ll not find highlighted on the resume he’s probably floating around. I am not alone in the opinion that he has been an ineffective and indecisive superintendent.

  5. I have lived in Brea since the day i was born in 1966, I went to Fanning for kindergarten. I can’t believe the board would even think about some BS from outsiders of our fine city.

    You people who are considering changing or taking Mr. Fannings name off the school… BOO to you!

  6. RE: BOUSD Board Meeting January 14

    There was a bully, or more, in the audience, a bully at the podium and a bully on the dais. Kropke’s pathetic attempt to intimidate her School Board colleagues with the Ocean View School District Trustees and NAACP shills was beyond belief. And it was woefully weak. What an embarrassment in front of family and friends. Her credibility for being truthful was exposed and the climax was her nonsensical jabber during Board comments.

    • Terry… I agree completely, those opposing retention of the Fanning name built their strategy upon intimidation. Their hope was to turn the discussion from what is was, the exposure of the Fanning/KKK hoax, the rejection of protestations from “outsiders” and a sensible rebranding of the school to it’s new emphasis as Brea’s third magnet school.


      By the way, “outsiders” is NOT a pejorative but is meant to merely identify those not living in Brea. Period.

  7. Credit must given where it is due; Bill Hall was a wizard Monday night with his mastery of the facts related to the litany of lies Ms. K.K.Kropke has spewed to get elected. My favorite was her claim to have caught up on all of the school board meetings , which she never had attended, by “watching them on the replay”. Bill Hall then reminded everyone than NONE of those meetings was recorded.

    Bottom line is Brea is being played as a “pawn” in the K.K.Kropke game of politics.

    • Dwight… I almost choked when Bill pointed that out. Has anyone ever publicly accused a seated board member of being a liar like that before? It will be interesting to see how that is reflected in the meeting’s minutes.

      Importing “outsiders” from the Ocean View School District Trustees and NAACP to help shift the discussion from the truth regarding Fanning’s legacy and systemic racism – to confuse and intimidate the other Board members, was a despicable strategy… and to what end? In the closing moments of the meeting you could see the light of understanding go off in the eyes of Flanders, Ruiz, Lyons and Colon.

  8. Now that the naming debacle has concluded, what are the chances that even 10% of those that became so involved from both sides of the debate now showing the same emotion and effort for the Brea Olinda district to help those 41% of students that are BELOW the MINIMUM levels of proficiency in what is being taught? Or demanding that the school board STOP taking their Cadillac health benefits UNTIL the teachers don’t have to plead for money from parents to buy basic supplies for their classrooms?

    Lets collectively open our eyes and see that Brea Olinda schools have the LOWEST amount of school days EVER; class sizes are HIGHER than ever. And the BOUSD pension debt INCREASED by over EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS last year after we paid over TEN MILLION DOLLARS towards pensions.

    Its time to wake up Brea.

    • Dwight, it seems to me that when it comes to the serious issues that face us in regards to government, most people, from all political camps, take no interest. This is not just true with School Board, but with the City as well.

      Talk to most people about the financial challenges we face and you are lucky to get a yawn. Of course the elected politicians, many of whom contributed to this state of affairs, dance around it or accuse those of us who care as being misinformed or trying to scare the people.

      Often, when I hear you speak, I fear that you are reaching deaf ears.

      • It’s called the human condition; survival is our number one instinct, and to survive today is harder than ever for almost everyone. Rent, food, utilities, insurance, children, schooling all take all one can muster to manage.

        Now layer on trying to become informed, fully, on the city hall finances, politics, pensions, etc. and its no wonder most citizens don’t engage. It’s why retirees are the majority that even comment at the microphone.

        Now more than ever we rely on Council to do the hard work and bring transparency AND fiscal prudence to Brea. We have made a great improvement the last 4 years. We need to keep that up and more!

  9. The debacle is how an old school mentality of the KKK is alive and festering in Brea. The school board certainly made an error in validating a history of the KKK in Brea when it was a Sundown Town.

    Unfortunately, the board voted to attach the Fanning name to a school planning on establishing an excellent reputation in the sciences and technology.

    Yes, there are “Two Sides to the Story” and the old school Breans couldn’t face the other side and acknowledge the importance of eliminating the “black faced”, “white-robed” racism of the past.

    • Ms. Muzzall… You’ve embraced facts not in evidence promulgated by a group with an agenda unrelated to William Fanning, Fanning school and the truth.

      The past cannot be eliminated. The future offers hope of an end to racism and disenfranchisement but not from poison dialog.

      The decision was not solely influenced or made by old school Breans. That’s the other side of the story you’ve been handed.

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