USA - Antisemitic comments at Chandler Unified school board meeting

Melanie Rettler
Chandler, AZ
- School boards in Arizona and across the country are coming under fire from angry parents and outsiders.

The latest shocking example is here in the Valley: an antisemitic outburst last week at a Chandler Unified Governing Board meeting.

A woman identified as Melanie Rettler, a Queen Creek veterinarian who claimed she was an expert on cloning, stitched together a speech to the board composed of right-wing talking points: "the deep state," "Critical Race Theory," the danger of the COVID-19 vaccines.

She capped the 100-second "citizen comment" with the offensive claim that "the Jews" are profiting off COVID vaccines.

"It's being taken from your money and given to these pharmaceutical companies. And if you want to bring race into this, it's the Jews," Rettler blurted out, then quickly walked away from the lectern.

There was a smattering of applause, and a mild rebuke from board President Barb Mozdzen.

"Your comments really need to be related to what the school board can do something about," Mozdzen said to Rettler.

Rettler isn't a Chandler parent. She couldn't be reached for comment.

Speakers do have a First Amendment right to share their opinions during the public comment portion of School Board meetings.

A parent who closely follows Chandler Unified school board meetings wasn't surprised by the outburst.

"This didn't come out of nowhere," attorney Laura Lawless said in an interview. Lawless' 13-year-old daughter attends a Chandler Unified school, and next fall her 4-year-old son will also enroll in a Chandler school.

"There's been a sentiment bubbling for months and years tolerant of the message of racism and discrimination," Lawless said. 

Interim Chandler School Superintendent Frank Narducci issued this statement about the board meeting: 

"We strongly denounce the anti-Semitic statement made. All Chandler Unified School District students, staff, and community members deserve to feel safe, respected and valued."

The Antidefamation League of Arizona urged the district to "publicly demonstrate – in the strongest possible way – their commitment to fighting antisemitism and all forms of hate."