David Thoming

David Thoming, superintendent of New Jerusalem Elementary School District, which charters Delta Charter High School, speaks to the Class of 2018 during commencement.

The superintendent of New Jerusalem School District is facing a backlash over a social media post that commenters say aggravates political tensions in the community.

On Thursday, Traci M. Serpa Thoming, wife of New Jerusalem Superintendent David Thoming, shared a meme on her Facebook page that reads: “So rioters you say country boys are next. You do realize country boys will sit 30 feet up on a tree all day just to kill something.” She introduced the meme with the words “Just sayin’” and three laughing-crying emojis.

What followed was a mix of reactions in the comments — some appalled at the meme, others supportive. Among them was a graphic of a man with a blazing machine gun, posted by David Thoming, with the statement, “It’s what we’ve been prepping for...”

An online petition to call for Thoming’s removal from his job followed, but the link to that petition was no longer active as of Friday morning. As more parents shared screen captures of the post, demands grew for Thoming’s resignation or firing. Some parents said they would reconsider whether to enroll their children at New Jerusalem School or Delta Charter High School.

Thoming said on Friday that he had no intention of resigning. He said the post was not shared publicly and was intended for a private audience, which included a couple of the parents who later shared screenshots of the meme and the following conversation. He added that to the extent it appeared threatening, the graphic was an expression of his intention to act in self-defense in response to threats of violence.

Thoming said there had been no direct threat that prompted posting of the meme, but the nature of some social media conversations appeared menacing enough that he didn’t believe it was out of line.

“There had been multiple threats on various social media pages regarding, like, the antifa folks coming out into the country and going after people in the rural areas, over the past three or four weeks,” Thoming said. “That’s what her meme was about. She reposted it. Somebody else had posted it.”

“What my response was, is that if you’re going to come out to my home and attack my family, I’m going to defend myself,” he added.

Black Lives Matters demonstrations have swept across the nation since the death of George Floyd when Minneapolis police detained him a month ago. Protests in Tracy have been made up mostly of young people marching with signs and chanting, and there have been no reports of violence related to those protests. However, television and internet images have shown scenes of vandalism and looting and other outbreaks of violence linked to protests in other cities.

Thoming said that his and his wife’s posts made no racist remarks and were not directed at all activists.

“It had nothing to do with protesters. It had everything to do with the reaction to rioters — and there’s a big difference between rioters and protesters — and the rioters threatening to come out to the country and attack my family,” he said.

He added that he would not give in to “cancel culture.”

“I’ve been superintendent for 14 years, and this is the most vile and vicious attack that that has ever been laid against me. In my opinion it is the result of the political place we find ourselves in the country at the moment. It’s no secret that I’m a conservative and I support the president, and someone was going to use that opportunity to come after me,” he said.

“Here’s the irony of this: Now that all of this has happened, we have received direct death threats, in more than one format.”

Amanda Ribeiro was among the New Jerusalem parents to repost the series of screenshots after she became aware of it through a Facebook group of local mothers. She felt it was inappropriate for a school superintendent to post such a message, but was not among those calling for Thoming’s resignation or removal.

She’s more concerned about how students at the school might interpret and react to the message.

“It’s not the type of thing I’m comfortable having around my kid,” she said. “I’m not aware of any incidents of rioting that has occurred in our town, or looting or violence associated with protests, so I’m not quite sure why out of nowhere it’s like, ‘They’re coming for us,’ because I haven’t seen any indication.”

She added that she monitors her own child’s social media use, but knows that other kids have unrestricted access to the internet without parental involvement.

“Now I’m in a position where I have to have a conversation with my 9-year-old,” she said. “By the time it gets talked about on the playground, actual facts probably aren’t in there. It’s important for parents to be aware so they can have those conversations.”

Thoming said he’s aware of how parents might react, but he’s also received messages assuring him that most people in the New Jerusalem community would support him.

“The outpouring of support that we’ve been getting, via email, and text, and people on Facebook, has been tremendous,” he said. “We have people out there that are sending us screenshots of people having conversations about this, and the overwhelming majority of the comments were in support of me.”

Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com or 830-4227.

Recommended for you

(9) comments

TankTownTech

What kind of social media sites is she engaging with, to believe that Antifa is coming after "country folk"? That's the kind of garbage you find on Breitbart or InfoWars. It's the sort of divisive propaganda put out by Russian troll farms. How gullible / fearful / misinformed do you have to be to buy into that sort of nonsense? Disappointed in both of them.

extracyresident

Any comment by a school official threatening violence toward community members is beyond disturbing. He should resign from his position immediately!

Bogettimom

I am trying to figure out where this has anything to do with racism ? How can 2 people who have opened their home on numerous occasions to the basketball team, football team, and different students all whom are from different backgrounds, ethnicity, and people of color . The very parents that have allowed their children to go to the Thoming home are now attacking him and calling him some pretty awful things. Are we as Americans going to walk around on eggshells from now on , afraid to post anything that might offend someone because the “race card” is gonna get thrown at us ? Are we going to continue to let the media put everyone into a frenzy because they only post one side of the story?

Stop throwing what happened to George Floyd into this situation! What happened to that man was horrible! However it has nothing to do with David Thoming or his ability do his job as Superintendent of New Jerusalem School District !

DCHS Parent

My issues as a parent: If you research what he was responding to, it was a hoax. He should have the judgement to not believe everything on social media. He should not be posting these kinds of words and images especially given his position in a school district. Facebook isn’t private. The response from him and his wife were unacceptable. He played the victim when called out and his wife said students were free to go to their assigned district school. In most cases, students are going to a charter school because their assigned district school is not a good fit for them. I have lost confidence in his judgement and I will take my child out of the school if he does not resign or get fired.

Mopar Guy

YOUR'E FIRED ! Bye - BYE ............

concernedparent

He has chosen to victimize himself at a time when the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Nina Pop, among countless others are at the front of our minds, and the disproportionate killing of Black people by the police is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Our children deserve better and they need someone who is willing to focus on the real issues and tackle the institutional racism we see in our schools, rather than play out some twisted fantasy on social media.

ShippHapps

So you support a guy Who solves problems with shooting human beings? You realize he is guiding young minds in your community. This doesn’t concern you?

extracyresident

Her post name is Bogettimom, David Thoming is related to the Bogetti family so I'm sure they don't want to see him lose his $250k per year salary.

ShippHapps

His excuse is null and void. There is no invisible monster aka Antifa threatening your community. He like many others are using their clear prejudice to build a false narrative. Let’s be honest honest with ourselves. No one should have the right to lead the youth when they are so easily brainwashed by conservative media. It’s obvious he is a lost cause who will stop at nothing with pushing his dangerous and reckless viewpoints. The clear arrogance that he and his wife displays clearly display they are not fit in their current positions. The entire community of Tracy should be embarrassed they are supporting such ignorance. Why would you allow someone so easily manipulated by media to lead your youth? You should all be embarrassed.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.