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School board president drinks beer during video meeting, apologizes: 'I didn't give any thought to it'


But district psychologist, some parents still aghast

Image source: KNBC-TV video screenshot

A California school board president drank a beer during a Zoom video meeting last week, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.

Many organizations are shifting to the popular videoconference platform since the coronavirus has shut most in-person meetings.

But Brian Akers, president of the Charter Oak Unified School Board in Covina, told the paper in a phone interview Wednesday he's simply not used to working from home with Zoom — and after finishing dinner and logging into the meeting, he took a few sips from the already opened bottle of beer without thinking about it.

"I didn't give any thought to it," he told the Tribune. "I'll apologize to anyone. It wasn't intentional."

What did district officials have to say?

School board members reprimanded Akers for violating the board's alcohol and drug-free workplace policy, the paper said, citing a news release.

"This is an isolated and unfortunate incident that was quickly addressed by members of our governing board, once it was brought to our attention," board Vice President Gregg Peterson said in a statement, the Tribune noted. "As elected officials, we need to be transparent and hold ourselves accountable for our actions."

Greg Palatto — a district psychologist and executive board member of the Charter Oak Educators Association — told KNBC-TV he was taken aback by what he saw on video.

"First it was a shock," he recalled to the station. "No way could that have been a beer, maybe a root beer. Then we look back on the live and yup, that's a Pacifico!"

Palatto added to the Tribune that Akers' beer swigging sets a bad example for students, especially those who have to watch school board meeting videos for civics classes.

"Kids are watching us," he told the paper. "The whole community is watching him."

What did parents have to say?

"There is no way I could be in a job and have that same Zoom conference and take a swig of a drink," parent Dyane Langis told KNBC. "That's unacceptable."

John Sitz — a Charter Oak school system grad who has three children who graduated from district schools as well — told the station Akers should step down.

"I would like to see him resign due to the fact that if it was anybody else caught drinking on the job, you would be walked off the premises at that point in time," Sitz added to KNBC.

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