W. E. Fanning Name Challenged.

FanningI spotted the following post about the challenge to the W. E. Fanning school’s name from Don Schweitzer on Facebook. After reviewing all he had provided (plus looking up and reading the original inflammatory blogs by Gustavo Arellano/OC Weekly) I felt compelled to share everything here, with Don’s permission, as well.

Over the years, Don and I have butted heads on many issues but on the Fanning matter we agree. First and foremost the truth must be established. Second, though technically the five members of the BOUSD Board can do whatever the hell they want to do on this… the community of Brea deserves an opportunity to wade in and play a leading role in the outcome.

Third party, non-Brea right wing unionist outsiders who have pretended to take up the cause are welcome to stay in Los Angeles, Fullerton and La Habra and save the money putting gas in their busses.

Don’s Facebook Post.

Friends, I need your help. Brea needs your help. Maybe you have heard or maybe you haven’t but the Brea School Board is considering changing the name of Fanning Elementary School. A school that was named after William E. Fanning, Brea’s first Superintendent and beloved Brea pioneer.

The School Board is basing their decision primarily on an unproven accusation that Mr. Fanning was a Ku Klux Klan member in the early 1900’s. An accusation that has been researched extensively and found to have no basis in fact..

I have attached a letter from Dena Sommer, a prior board member, that states the issue much better than I ever could as well as a letter from Bill Fanning, the grandson of W.E. Fanning. They are both very factual. For fairness I have also attached the opinion of the gentleman, that by the way is from La Habra, that is requesting the name change and his reasoning. I want you to hear both sides.

In order for the School Board to make an intelligent decision they need to hear from us. I’ve attached their contact information below. Please write them a short note with your opinion, for or against the issue. They will be voting very soon, next week I believe, so if you feel like engaging please do it soon.

As a side note, I knew Mr. Fanning. My parents knew him well as did my grandfather. In high school one of my teachers was his son and his grandsons were my classmates. The Fanning family have been a fixture in Brea for almost a hundred years. The three generations of Fanning’s I have known have always been respected and admired for their honestly, intelligence and willingness to help others. A founding family that has contributed greatly to Brea’s success, especially in the field of education.

Thank you very much for your time. I hope this note finds you in good health and that you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas.


Don Schweitzer, Former Mayor

Make yourself heard!

Only the brain dead will not form some opinion or point of view. Keeping it to yourself when you have the opportunity… and responsibility to share it should result in having your ‘Good Ol’ Brea Membership Card’ revoked for life.

If you’re unable to attend the BOUSD Board meeting then these are the folks you need to email:

  • Carrie Flanders, Board President – cflanders@bousd.us
  • Gail Lyons, Board Vice President – glyons@bousd.us
  • Paul Ruiz – pruiz@bousd.us
  • Nicole Colon – ncolon@bousd.us
  • Keri Kropke – kkropke@bousd.us
  • Brad Mason, Superintendent of BOUSD – bmason@bousd.us

Do your homework first!

Below are links to communications from Dena Sommer, former BOUSD Board member, Terry Sullivan, 70 year resident of Brea and the detailed report from the Brea Historical Society.

They are PDFs, easy to read, download and worth saving as permanent reference.

Like I said from the beginning, start with the truth. Don’t rely on that nosey neighbor down the street that always has an opinion on everything but never any proof. Get familiar with the facts and come to your own conclusion.

Whatever that considered conclusion might be… share it. Send an email or, even better, show up at the Board’s General Session next Monday evening (starts at 6:30 pm).

I’ve confirmed that the matter of naming the Fanning school will be on Monday’s agenda as a Discussion Item and that Dr. Mason will be making an oral presentation on the topic. No written report has been prepared.

Please, speak during Matters from the Audience. Your input along with Dr. Mason’s presentation and whatever discussion follows amongst the board, will lay the groundwork for the final recommendations to be presented to the board – likely later this month or in January.

12 thoughts on “W. E. Fanning Name Challenged.

  1. Thank you Rick and Don for laying this issue out for us to assess.

    I read an article today in the New York Times about vigilante mobs lynching and killing “suspected” criminals in Brazil, and South American nations. Similarly to this issue, groups band together to exact revenge, not based on a trial or legal process, but raw emotions and anger. The article tells of a large amount of innocent people ending up dead due to these mob actions.

    So here we are in Brea, with a group of accusers, that want justice. The problem we have though is there is no clear evidence to prove the accusation. If we stand for anything in the United States, rule of law must be the most important. It is what makes our freedom worth something, and allows free speech without fear of recrimination.

    It seems like there are two sides battling here, but frankly, I can’t see why; It should be unanimous that the KKK is evil, and it should be equally unanimous that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and in Mr Fanning’s case, there is no court worthy evidence to change the name of our school.

  2. I emailed all 5 Schoolboard members as well as our superintendent on my stance in October.

    My stance: We should change the name to incorporate the new science technology program that the school now has HOWEVER, we also keep Mr. Fanning‘s name in there. Something along the lines of The William Fanning School of Computer Sciences or the like.

    I have not been in Brea very long however I appreciate his contributions to our town and our student’s education. There is NO concrete proof of Mr. Fanning being a KKK member and the people pushing the name change have no stake in Brea – they do not live here nor have any investment here.

    I would be utterly devastated if Mr. Fanning‘s name was removed. My children attend Fanning elementary so this deeply concerns me.

    • Sara… well said and you have precedence on your side. The name change at Laurel school retained the Laurel name. Thanks for joining in!

  3. School Board Members and Superintendent Mason,

    This email concerns the proposed name change to Fanning School. I know each of you and there is no feeling of deficit in your ability.

    The name change of Fanning is deeply opposed by me and many others. That is both conservatives and liberals. We cannot let what we see around the country infect Brea. Furthermore, Why would we be influenced folks that do not live in Brea?

    There are many city officials, board members and the like that have their names on plaques on projects. Should they be removed? Would think not.

    The school superintendent at the “School Board” meeting when challenged stated that they sent out 2K letters about the Fanning School meeting. Most of my neighbors that have children attending Fanning did not get that letter. Our community is over 16K homes. There should have and should be wider reach on the name change. The Fanning name should be included in any fashion.

    Much Respect.

    • Jim… I appreciate your sharing your thoughts on this. I’m told the BOUSD Board is following social media on this issue and now your opposition is known to them too.

      I hope they also take note of the district’s failure to adequately alert the community of their pending consideration. They should have notified well beyond that parents of Fanning students… obviously this is a matter that is of great interest to all of Brea.

  4. Rick. Sent my message to the Board. Hopefully they’ll have the courage to make the right decision and not be bullied by Rodriguez and his activist buddies that don’t care about this community or the education of our children.

  5. It’s beyond shameful that apparently we have a majority of the Board that approves of removing the Fanning name. Thanks to Paul Ruiz for having the courage to stand up to the bullying tactics of the activist. Let us know if there’s a plan developing to overcome this outrageous smear of the Fanning name! Thanks.

  6. You know, I think the board, or 4 of the 5, realize that the so called evidence is very weak. But what has happened now, is there is a fear of harm to the children by someone in white hoods coming onto school grounds someday.

    The emotion of fear is very strong, especially for a mother, to protect her kids from any harm. Is there a legitimate concern here? I am an action taker and I know that fears are just fears created by my imagination. Those fears tend to make reality seem scarier than it really is.

    When you face your fears, they become weaker, because you realize that reality is not nearly as bad as your imagination. Haven’t we all been in those situations? We all tend to focus on the negatives.

    So board members, try to look at the positives and you soon realize that you’re making a big deal out of nothing.

    • John… I completely agree. I hope the board members read this, or someone sends it to them. They need to read it.

      My Gramma used to tell me, “Worry is the price you pay for problems that will probably never happen.”

      That doesn’t mean we can run around fat, dumb and happy… though I usally do. We need to be sensible. I like the way you characterized it. Thanks.

  7. Help me out here Rick. The school board is afraid of white hooded KKK showing up at the school? And this “fear” is due to a Mexican American having donned such an outfit to create a sensational photo for his article in a local rag/paper?

    This is so as ass-backwards logically that it defies explanation.

    Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, and they can collectively agree to change the name if and when actual conclusive evidence is produced. Thank you

    • Dwight… simply put, yes. To add visual impact to his clickbait hollow protest article, Arellano composed a racist, sick photo… probably conscripting his protege Gabriel San Roman as the pretend klansman.

      It might have been funny in Blazing Saddles, but this photo is purely xenophobic and should not be given a second thought.

      The idea that it would evoke sufficient irrational fear into the hearts and minds of board members that they would cave in and dismiss the contribution of one of Brea’s most notable pioneers in education is, as you said, ass-backward.

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