UTAH LEGISLATURE

‘I’m disappointed’: Utah board of education member asks leadership for vote on Cline’s punishment

Feb 8, 2024, 7:55 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2024, 12:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Four members of the state board of education spoke out Thursday, condemning the actions of fellow board member Natalie Cline after she posted a picture of a girls high school basketball player, appearing to insulate that she was a boy.

Some are calling for board leadership to move quickly to schedule an executive session to allow the full board to vote on a punishment.

“I’ve asked reached out to board leadership yesterday and today, urging them to call an emergency executive session where matters like this are addressed. I’m disappointed that we haven’t had one yet,” said board member Joseph Kerry, R–Ogden.

KSL TV attended a scheduled meeting of the state board Thursday and asked leadership in person for an interview, but they declined.

Cline was not there, nor was she present online.

As of this writing, a spokesperson said leadership has not set a date yet for an executive session.

The board did issue a statement earlier Thursday, condemning Cline. They said they were deeply “saddened” by Cline’s post and promised to take “swift action.” However, individual board members said they were “sick” about Cline’s post.

Many suggested things like a censure, to strip her of committees, possibly even take away her ability to speak or vote. Board member Brent Strate said he wants the maximum punishment Cline can get from the board.

“Here’s a minor, here’s a young female basketball player at a school, and she’s being targeted by an adult. And, you know, that just cannot stand. As adults, we have to be responsible for our actions. It’s a sad day,” he said.

Member Kristan Norton, R- St. George, said she wanted the Legislature to take action with impeachment and believes this brings up an issue about what to do about social media bullying. As for her thoughts on the post, Norton said she was sick about them.

“My role on this board is for student safety and for student growth and for student development. And this sent all of that back so far,” she said.

The board said that since Cline’s post, they have received at least 180 complaints via a hotline for education concerns. One member laid additional blame on the Legislature for enabling the environment for Cline’s post after passing recent transgender legislation.

“When you start a fire, you have to be prepared for the consequences. These bills target young people, and they target young people who don’t look like all of their peers and sometimes look just the slightest bit different. And when you have bills that target those students, there will be angry voices that go beyond what you even intend,” said board member Carol Lear, D–Salt Lake City.

The board cannot vote to remove Cline, an elected state official can only be impeached by the Legislature.

Legislative leaders said today those conversations are happening.

Cline didn’t respond to requests to comment on camera but did respond via text initially with a link to her apology on Facebook.

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‘I’m disappointed’: Utah board of education member asks leadership for vote on Cline’s punishment