PYLUSD Board Member Leandra Blades Under Heat

Blades posts a “NO FORCED MASK” photo to her Facebook.

Karina Shah, Photojournalist

Leandra Blades is a member of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified Board of Education. She was elected on December 11, 2020, causing her end-of-term date to be in December 2024. Only about a month after being elected, Blades went on a “girls trip” to “spend time with her friends” in Washington (Andy Falco show on 

Blades, alongside her friends, attended a Trump rally in the U.S. Capitol on January 6. This rally eventually escalated into the attack on the U.S. Capitol that led to five deaths. A large number of the Trump-supporters from the rally forced themselves into the Capitol through violent means and threatened the nation’s democratic nature. She was pictured at this event on a friend’s Facebook post, making claims about “ANTIFA” being “dressed as Patriots” and accusing them of being responsible for the attack. In regards to this language, she points out that “these are her friends’ words” and from her personal experience, she “did see those who appear to be ANTIFA there” but as for those who breached the capitol, she “would never accuse [anyone of] that with basically zero fact .” She continued with this explanation during her interview on the Andy Falco Show on Youtube. Although Blades says that she never entered the Capitol building or joined the violence, she has received backlash for multiple reasons. 

Statements Blades made on Facebook regarding the events at the Capitol Building.
(Courtesy of Facebook)

One focus on Blades’ actions is attending the event itself; the other is her “girls trip” being during a pandemic. She says the reason behind the trip was simply “ to see President Trump speak.” During this pandemic, traveling is not recommended by the CDC. The CDC explains, “Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”The number of cases in California, especially in Orange County, are extremely high, and traveling creates a high exposure environment. To add, Blades has been seen not following the mask-wearing guideline. On her Facebook, an image comes up of her with the caption “no forced mask” under the photos section. Also, in an image (attached) of her at the Trump rally that sparked all of the controversy, she is seen in multiple images without her mask on in a large crowd of people (Facebook). With these examples in mind, much of the community has critiqued her disregard for the health and safety guidelines of the CDC. Blades feels that there have been multiple people throughout the district who  have done things in violation of CDC guidelines and wonders, “When is one CDC violation okay, and when is another not okay?” She goes on to add that “I did not break any laws… If it was dangerous to fly, I would not be allowed to get on a plane. I wore a mask on the plane, I wore a mask everywhere where I was required to. Washington D.C. is less strict than California is. I am not an anti-masker. I wear a mask. I just choose not to wear a mask all the time. I do have a medical condition. A lot of people are aware of it, and that’s just what I have been dealing with. My doctor has said I shouldn’t be wearing a mask. I wear it when I am supposed to wear it and when I have to.”

The other main concern surrounding Blades is her expressed viewpoints. Her recent Facebook post says that she has been an outspoken conservative and Trump-supporter since before she was elected and that she has been open about those sentiments. Many people have a variety of opinions on the election and politics, and the district announced that they recognize:

“Members may make public statements and participate in public discourse on matters of civic or community interest and utilize their right to freely express their personal views. Board members also have a responsibility to identify personal viewpoints as such and not as the viewpoint of the Board and the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District. To the extent any public statements were made by or about any individual Board member concerning the events that took place on January 6 in Washington, D.C., we want to be clear that those statements were not viewpoints shared by the Board or the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.”

While she is allowed to state her opinion, the reason she is being criticized is the relationship between her public stance and her position on the school board. It may be considered, as it is by many who state their opinion on the incident on social media platforms and petitions, that her actions reflect on the district. The school district has a set no-discrimination policy available at A large number of people feel that this policy was violated by Blades’ actions and the fact that she continues to justify her actions. This is seen on a petition calling for the resignation of Leandra Blades that, “Blades sets the worst example of what PYLUSD stands for” ( 

The reaction to these events has been intense and can be seen in many different forms (social media and local news outlets).

One way that the community has come together against Leandra Blades is through petitions, with the biggest petition for her to resign coming in at 7,874 signatures on January 14. This petition calls for her resignation and continues to state that the process to recall Leandra Blades will begin if she chooses not to resign. Numerous petitions outline the events that occurred and collectively agree to the resignation, if not the recall, of Blades. 

Social media has had a heavy influence during the aftermath. Leandra Blades’ Facebook account has received large amounts of interaction in the past week with over 700 comments on her most recent post that addresses and supports the events that occurred at Capitol Hill. People commenting on her posts have expressed being both for and against her resignation. On Instagram and Twitter, students have been circulating the incidents to raise awareness about what happened. They shared the petitions, board contact information, and posts about their feelings concerning her actions. The most notable account is one on Instagram. @PYLUSD.against.terrorism, which is outwardly against Blades’ actions. It gained a large following, including many likes and comments on their posts, which denounce Blades’ actions and argue they are “holding her accountable.”

Social media has also taken a look at Leandra Blades’ records. Something from her past that was brought up was her experiences during her times as a Downey police officer and that profession as a point of interest for Blades’ past. To add, something that was revealed was her social media presence on a page that got removed because of Islamaphobic posts. She was a member of the group before it was taken down. One point that many people focused on was her statement  during her time on the Andy Falco Show: “My dog is a black labrador so he’s probably saying ‘my mom is not racist.’’ Many people had connected this to the fact that she supported campaigns, such as blocking the new Black Lives Matter curriculum (Leandra Blades Campaign Info). She claims that this statement is “a running joke” about her black dog because she has been called racist since she started the campaign. She says, “It was more of a joke. Like my friends who have the black labs, we would put ‘all labs matter’ and ‘black labs matter.’ So it was kind of a joke that was running around.”  In response to the Black Lives Matter curriculum, Blades has no intention of removing Black literature from the pre-existing curriculum but continues to support the blockage of new Black Lives Matter and social justice curriculum because she feels, “there is a push for socialism, transgender studies, teaching of multi genders, the theory that white people are racist and have privilege, defunding of the police, and the disruption of the nuclear family.” 

Statements Blades made on Facebook regarding the Black Lives Matter curriculum.
(Courtesy of Facebook)

When asked about a cumulative statement toward those who feel she is  a “racist” or a “terrorist” as well as toward students of color, L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ students, and students of other religions, she says, 

“It is an unfair statement to be calling me a terrorist or an insurrectionist when I did no such thing. I think some of these statements have been so slanderous and inflammatory… I have one of my best friends who is half black… I have some of my best friends who are gay… I have friends who are Democrats… I have been very accepting of other things… There’s not a racist bone in my body. I am actually Hispanic. I have a Dutch and German side of my mother but my dad is Hispanic. I have a whole side of my family that speaks fluent Spanish… So to kind of say that I’m this racist, or whatnot, I feel like it’s because of my political beliefs that that’s how I am being termed racist… I am being held to a different standard due to my political beliefs. ”

Blades looks positively toward the future. She asks for “fairness and grace” and for society to “bring respect for both sides.” She looks forward to seeing our sports programs restart and getting our athletes back on the field safely. She also wants to get more money into the arts, drama, and musical programs. She says, “this pandemic has really shown us how important this is for our students and kids’ mental health.” She ultimately feels that we have so much good going on in our district and hopes to promote it as much as she can.