Carrol Titus-Zambre, a candidate for the Mountain View Los Altos High School District's board, allegedly threatened a high school reporter last year after the student newspaper at Los Altos High published an article quoting Titus-Zambre criticizing the district's handling of the pandemic and school reopening.
Titus-Zambre allegedly told a reporter for The Talon – Los Altos High's student newspaper – that she would sue the teen over her quotes in an article, as well as claiming that her husband is in the military and threatening to have the student individually investigated.
The Talon first reported on Titus-Zambre's alleged threats in an Oct. 7 article. The Voice has interviewed the student involved, and has reviewed a copy of a contemporaneous email that journalism advisor Michael Moul sent to Los Altos High Principal Wynne Satterwhite about the incident. The Voice is withholding the name of the student journalist given the nature of the threats that she described.
Titus-Zambre did not respond to an email requesting comment for this article. She is one of six candidates vying for three seats on the high school district's board this November.
This isn't the first time that Titus-Zambre has gotten into hot water for her public statements. She falsely claimed to the Los Altos Town Crier that Superintendent Nellie Meyer endorsed her, and then subsequently told the Voice that she had misunderstood the definition of an endorsement.
This latest controversy originated with a March 2021 Talon article about a school reopening protest. In the article, Titus-Zambre is quoted as saying that she doesn't "know of any other industry where you’re allowed to not work and still get paid." She also called the idea of students returning to school with masks "completely ridiculous."
The student journalist who Titus-Zambre allegedly threatened told the Voice that she and a co-reporter were covering the protest and interviewing attendees. When she spoke with Titus-Zambre, the student said that Titus-Zambre shared her name and gave permission to have the interview recorded.
After the article was published, Titus-Zambre texted the student and asked to have her name removed from the article. The student at first agreed, but Moul, the newspaper's advisor, subsequently explained to her that doing so would violate The Talon's policies, as well as widely accepted ethics guidelines for news organizations.
While media outlets may agree with sources ahead of time that their names will not be published, these decisions are carefully considered and not made retroactively. According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, a reporter should consider sources' motives before promising not to name them and should "Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere."
After speaking with her advisor, the Talon reporter said that she texted Titus-Zambre to let her know that her name would be added back to the article and that she could contact Moul if she had any questions.
Titus-Zambre instead texted back claiming that she hadn't consented to her inclusion in the article and that the newspaper needed to vigorously defend sources' anonymity, the student told the Voice.
Titus-Zambre then called her and threatened to sue over the article, the student said, as well as claiming that her husband is in the military and that she would have the student investigated. The Talon reporter and Moul also recalled Titus-Zambre claiming that she would have the military sent to the student's home, though neither was able to find a written record of that comment.
The Voice obtained from the school district a copy of Moul's email to Principal Satterwhite describing the situation. In this message, he told Satterwhite that "Ms. Titus has now threatened to sue Talon and the reporter. She also apparently said that her husband is in the military and will investigate the reporter individually."
The student also shared a screenshot of a text that she sent at the time to another student, saying that she had been told Titus-Zambre's husband is in the military and had been threatened with a lawsuit and investigation.