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Sally Price, left, and Melanie Molina both have children in Temecula schools, but are on opposite sides of the effort to oust Temecula school board President Joseph Komrosky from office in the Tuesday, June 4, 2024, recall election. (Photos by Anjali Sharif-Paul and Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Sally Price, left, and Melanie Molina both have children in Temecula schools, but are on opposite sides of the effort to oust Temecula school board President Joseph Komrosky from office in the Tuesday, June 4, 2024, recall election. (Photos by Anjali Sharif-Paul and Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
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What unites Melanie Molina and Sally Price is also what divides them.

Both their families moved to Temecula — Molina from Fallbrook, Price from North Dakota — so their children could take advantage of the city’s highly regarded public school district.

But Molina, 32, and Price, 41, find themselves on opposite sides in the fight to remove Temecula school board President Joseph Komrosky, .

“Out of all of us parents, he was the one that stood up and decided ‘I’m going to take a stand,’” said Molina, who has three school-age children and a 7-month-old.

  • Danny and Melanie Molina, are seen Wednesday, May 22, 2024,...

    Danny and Melanie Molina, are seen Wednesday, May 22, 2024, with children Aneliyse, 13; Thayden, 7; Delia, 6; and 7-month-old Dario; in front of their Temecula home with a sign opposing the recall of Temecula school board President Joseph Komrosky. The Tuesday, June 4, 2024, recall election has divided a community where highly ranked public schools are a major draw for new families. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Melanie Molina and her husband, Danny, show an anti-recall sign...

    Melanie Molina and her husband, Danny, show an anti-recall sign in front of their Temecula home Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Melanie Molina’s vehicle, which displays an anti-recall logo, is seen...

    Melanie Molina’s vehicle, which displays an anti-recall logo, is seen at the family’s Temecula home Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, ɫ̳/SCNG)

  • Temecula resident Sally Price holds a sign supporting the recall...

    Temecula resident Sally Price holds a sign supporting the recall of Temecula school board President Joseph Komrosky on Thursday, May 23, 2024. She says the board engages in wasteful spending and pursues a political agenda at the expense of Temecula students. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • Sally Price is volunteering for One Temecula Valley PAC, which...

    Sally Price is volunteering for One Temecula Valley PAC, which is leading the effort to recall Temecula school board President Joseph Komrosky in the Tuesday, June 4, 2024, election. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • Sally Price, whose two children attend Temecula schools, hopes school...

    Sally Price, whose two children attend Temecula schools, hopes school board President Joseph Komrosky is removed from office in the Tuesday, June 4, 2024, recall election. “The people of Temecula have awakened and they’re unhappy,” she said. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • Temecula school board President Joseph Komrosky has become a lightning...

    Temecula school board President Joseph Komrosky has become a lightning rod in the battle over the direction of the Temecula Valley Unified School District. A Tuesday, June 4, 2024, recall election will decide his fate on the board. (File photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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Price, whose 13- and 15-year-olds attend Temecula schools, said Komrosky has done “nothing for our community, nothing of value.”

“Komrosky is a dictator, not a leader,” she said. “He always causes division and chaos.”

Price said Komrosky, along with two other conservative board members elected in 2022 — one, Danny Gonzalez, — has tried to impose a political agenda at the expense of children’s education.

“All children deserve an education, a quality education with the separation of church and state without religion,” Price said.

“And they are trying to push their beliefs on others. Banning books is not OK. That’s what the Nazis did … We need to learn history and not go there”

“The (Temecula) school district is superior compared to Fallbrook Unified,” Molina said. “We (were) also looking for more of that community feel — the tract home feel where we’d be closer to everyone.”

Price said she and her husband are amazed at what Temecula high schools offer, especially compared to the small Washington state town in which they grew up.

“Going through the freshman orientation a month ago, we were just in awe of the opportunities these children have with the hundreds of clubs,” Price said. “We maybe had five clubs at our school.”

For the most part, Temecula school board meetings used to be tranquil affairs.

After Komrosky, Gonzalez and fellow conservative Jen Wiersma , those meetings have become culture war battlegrounds featuring fiery public comments, public acrimony between board members, shouting and clapping from conservatives’ friends and foes and sheriff’s deputies keeping the peace.

That division has carried over to the recall, with both sides attacking each other on social media, holding sign-waving rallies at busy intersections and competing to see who can put up the most campaign signs around town.

Both sides accuse the other of stalking and menacing behavior in-person and online.

“You go to these (school board) meetings and you realize some of these individuals are not even civil. They’re not even following the rules themselves,” Molina said.

“Some of them are employees, some of them are educators from other places. So it’s just kind of really inspired me as a mom to speak up and support Dr. Komrosky because it’s very rare you elect someone and they go in and they do what they say they’re going to do.”

Molina, a registered Libertarian who lives in Komrosky’s district, has an anti-recall lawn sign and sticker on her vehicle. She said she has neighbors who support the recall and gets along with them, but she’s also been flipped off by other drivers “and I’ve had people try to run me off the road.”

Price, who doesn’t live in Komrosky’s district, said the anti-recall side is “nasty and aggressive” at board meetings.

“I know there’s been talk about me,” Price said, who described herself as a moderate and declined to share her political party affiliation.

“We meet sometimes at the park and certain individuals from the park told one of my other neighbors how she doesn’t like my (pro-recall lawn) sign … There is one individual who I’m Facebook friends with who’s spewed all kinds of misinformation on my Facebook page and I have the right to delete that.”

Neither Molina nor Price considers themselves to be die-hard activists.

Molina, whose husband, Danny, hosts an anti-recall podcast — Komrosky has been a guest — said she’s never been heavily involved in politics. Price said she volunteered for a few political campaigns and talked politics with family before joining the pro-recall effort.

Molina said she and her husband, a Marine Corps veteran, voted for Komrosky after reading his biography in a voter information guide.

“Any time we see someone who is a veteran running, that’s very important to us for our family,” Molina said, adding she was impressed by Komrosky’s academic background — he holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and teaches at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut — “and he’s for the parents. He’s for parental rights.”

Watching the conservatives run for school board in 2022, “(I thought) ‘Oh boy, these people, I think they might get elected,’” Price said.

After school closures during the pandemic and remote learning, she said, “people were riled up so I could just kind of see the writing on the wall.”

The night they took office, Komrosky and his fellow conservatives , a term used by conservatives to attack lessons they believe to be racially divisive and borne of a victim mentality.

“We have a blended family,” Molina said. “My oldest daughter is from my first marriage and she’s biracial.”

“Teaching CRT to my children would break our family apart essentially because you’re going to be teaching my daughter, who is half Black, that I’m her oppressor and her siblings are her oppressor.”

Price is especially troubled by board and a policy, passed by the then-conservative majority, to .

While neither of her children identify as transgender, “we’ve built a safe environment,” Price said.

“However, not all children have that option … I want parents to be involved in their children’s life. But children need to be able to come out when they feel comfortable and safe on their own time.”

Price is working with One Temecula Valley PAC, which spearheaded the drive to put the recall on the ballot. She knocks on voters’ doors to promote the campaign.

“The people of Temecula have awakened and they’re unhappy,” Price said.

Price said her family at one point was “on the fence” about moving “if we didn’t get normalcy back.”

“We’re not looking for left or right,” she said. “We just want a quality education for our children with fighting different battles that are not meant for a school board.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an error. Sally Price did not sign the petition to force a recall election against Joseph Komrosky. She does not live in his district. 

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