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Legislators working on resolution that could result in Natalie Cline’s impeachment

Also, city leaders in Cline’s school board district ‘demand’ her ‘immediate resignation’

SHARE Legislators working on resolution that could result in Natalie Cline’s impeachment
Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline’s desk and nameplate are shown.

Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline did not attend the scheduled meeting at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Feb. 8, 2024.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Utah lawmakers are working to establish a process this week to address festering concerns about a Utah State Board of Education member who posted on Facebook an image of a high school girls basketball player with a caption that inferred she is male.

Utah Senate President J. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said legislative leaders want to approach the matter in a manner that is “responsible” but “expeditious.”

“We don’t want it to linger but we do want to make sure that we have the right process laid out before we decide which direction to take,” he said Monday, addressing reporters during a daily briefing.

Lawmakers have a number of options, which could include impeachment proceedings, censure, a reprimand and granting impeachment authority to the state school board, although Adams said the latter was “probably not be at the top of the list.”

Other possibilities include that Natalie Cline, a Republican who represents District 9 on the State School Board, could “take action herself” or it could be left up to voters this fall because Cline is seeking reelection, Adams said.

Pressure is mounting in Cline’s board district in the southwest quadrant of Salt Lake County.

Midvale’s mayor and all five city council members sent a letter to Cline demanding her “immediate resignation.” Midvale is among several cities in District 9 boundaries.

“This action is deemed necessary to restore public trust in our educational institutions and to reinforce our commitment to upholding an environment where every student can feel valued and protected,” the letter said in part.

Cline’s “targeting of a high school student on social media, has not only led to undue stress and potential harm to the student, but has cast a long shadow over the integrity of the Utah State Board of Education,” the letter states.

“Your behavior clearly shows you are incapable of fulfilling your duty when it leads directly to subjecting a student to cyberbullying and public criticism. It contradicts the values that we, as a community, stand for,” it said.

It also notes that the social media posts are “part of a recurring pattern of behavior that has previously been subject to official reprimand by the Utah State Board of Education.”

Former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, during a recent appearance on “The Hinckley Report” on PBS Utah, observed that Cline’s “done something that’s really rare. She’s offended everybody. I mean, everybody, the Legislature, both sides of the aisle, school board members, her colleagues who she works with, the public at large.”

Herbert continued, “We’ve had a major campaign on anti-bullying, and that’s usually student on students and our social media has been a topic of discussion. ‘What can we do to protect our children?’ So to have an adult and a member of the school board actually engage in cyberbullying is really disappointing and as most people are saying now, she should resign.”

On Friday, the Granite School Board passed a resolution on a 6-1 vote that urged other school boards and elected officials to join them in “demanding board member Cline’s immediate resignation from the State Board of Education.” The targeted student attends a Granite District high school.

Meanwhile, the Jordan School District Board of Education is expected to discuss the events at its meeting Tuesday night. The school district’s boundaries overlap with a large portion of District 9.

Millcreek City was expected to consider a resolution Monday evening that demands Cline’s resignation.

The student targeted in Cline’s post plays high school girls basketball, one of the sports and activities sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association.

In response to the events, UHSAA issued the following statement:

“There is no place in high school activities for bullying or harassment. The UHSAA is committed to stressing educational and cultural values, improving the participation experience in activities, promoting life skills and lessons involved in competitive activities, fostering sportsmanship and assisting those who oversee high school sports and activities in UHSAA member high schools. The Association will continue to ask all those who supervise, participate in and watch these sports and activities to stand together with the UHSAA and its member high schools in support of all students who participate and compete in high school activities.”

Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche