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The Safe Harbor Michael Allman Made

The subject of this, a parent Facebook group, has come into view — and to some, even scrutiny — and it’s left me to reflect on how it even came to be. For the new entrants into it (and to the ones who’ve ducked in to “spy,” and use as oppo-research), please listen too if you’re inclined.

The summer we found out schools at SDUHSD would stay closed for the fall of 2020 — was at once disorienting, perplexing and enraging for me and many parents. Never had I paid attention to school board meetings, never mind had my daughters, yet there we were glued to our stools around the kitchen island, listening to a Zoom — first hopeful, then devastated.

So went our start into a tangle of unknowns. We as parents, or in the least I as one, recognized what pits our kids could or would be falling into, with schools in full closure. Our kids, they held so brave for months the prior spring. This was supposed to have been the brightness at the other side of it.

As parents, we all had been untethered, connecting where we could from whichever neighborhood or beach town or HOA we had lived in — trying to build little rafts of normalcy so our kids wouldn’t succumb and slide beneath the ice to isolation's depths.

But there was an election set for that fall for school board, and as we parents flailed and tried to regain footing, the name Mike Allman kept coming up.

It all feels ancient now, but that was really just two years ago. God, it feels we’ve aged a decade since that time, but it was just two years. I remember his name kept coming up, and that whilst I didn’t know who he was, he was our best shot at getting schools reopened.

This Facebook group popped up — I think by him — and disparate strands of households from across North County found a common harbor. We shared whoas and fears and symptoms of how our kids were faring. We spitballed ideas. We made new friends, some who I’ve shared deeply with, but haven’t actually met until just this summer, in 2022.

So it would be, the collective of parents that Michael Allman made. Early days, it felt like we were trying to make fire from sticks and rocks. And basically, that was what we were left to do, and was what we did.

Some of us researched — not on opposition — but for solutions, the minutia of which schools in which states had reopened and how they did it. The hybrids and cohort platooning and uses of outdoor spaces. We culled for data, reports, and for published reopen plans.

That Michael Allman was elected at all — in contrast to the entrenched machinery that teacher unions forged — was brilliant a coup for kids and parents. And since then, the union ilk affixed a target on him. It became apparent then, during and through his election, that he with us as parents had stumbled into and disrupted a closed-game card room, that we as parents, to them, didn't belong in.

The reigns of this Facebook group, Michael Allman relinquished to other people, I presume who he had come to know and trust through those early days of uncertainty. And here it sits, a collective of parents that union backers shake fist at and hold scorn for.

So goes now, this roof over head with room for more, seen instead as a citadel to besiege. So go the screen grabs for gotcha moments by false-flagged friends, still with motives to try in tearing Michael Allman and this group of parents down.

And now, I’ve noticed the fresh-faced parents to the group who call for process and modulation and seek of rephrase to that quick reply or half-formed thought. And it occurs to me that they don’t know at all what brought us here — not the wander of thought or the dim moments shared, with laughs together sometimes in the face of desperation.

And those fresh-faced parents don’t know or realize it was that name we hadn’t heard of — Michael Allman — as the one who first brought us all together. And I will be ever grateful for what he restored within my household during so bleak an endless time of loneliness that my kids endured, and for thousands more throughout our district.

Jason James Barry is an award-winning essayist and journalist. Follow his work on and at


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