Isn’t it a conflict of interest to have people in education on school boards?

October 13 – With the announcement of the resignation of Kevin Mintz as vice president of the Chambersburg Area School Board last night, questions turn to who will fill the vacancy.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the makeup of school boards this morning during the Big Talk on First News.

Ryan said, “Kevin Mintz, a teacher in another school district is now walking away and that’s good news. I say it’s good news because frankly, the school board raised, knowing well they’re going to be flush with cash, and the relationship between the education category and schools and the government, you can’t help but think that you’re going to get some money here out of the COVID crisis, so what did they do after State Representative Rob Kauffman said that’s a really pretty bad idea to raise the mils on the backs of the taxpayers, 3.4 mils, and I’ll bet you, fairly certain, Kevin was a yes on that.”

Jansen confirmed, “Oh yeah, he argued for it. And I will fault him for that and the others that went along with it because it seemed to me it was pretty lame that they thought that that was a good reason to raise taxes when they knew perfectly well there’d be a lot of money. It was really ridiculous to assume there wouldn’t be money coming for education because government always hands out money for education.”

Ryan added, “I need people in the business community, not more teachers and more educators and more people that are in the scrum, that are in the circle, not looking out for the taxpayer. In my opinion.”

The replacement for Tom Dolan, who passed away September 15, 2021, was also discussed. The choice seems to be between someone who had a PhD in philosophy and another who’s involved in education.

Jansen said, “We keep hearing this, oh we want education professionals on the school board and I’m like I don’t think we want education professionals on the school board because they’re supposed to be representing a different point of view.”

Ryan said, “Government pros as they name themselves in Chambersburg, have no problem buying property and becoming real estate barons. I don’t need more educators running the education system that’s broke because educators are running the education system.”

Barkdoll said, “It will be interesting to see how this seat gets filled.”

School boards reorganize in December, so people who are successful in the November election get seated in November. Unless the current board fills the vacancy by the end of November, it would be up to the newly constituted board in December to fill it.

The replacement could really go either way, depending on who wins the seats in the November election.

Barkdoll pointed out, “This has long been a debate in school board governance. You see a lot of boards with teachers from other districts, spouses of teachers, retired teachers and administrators and I think it’s a valid criticism that they are not looking at issues as neutrally as someone that’s just on there even as a parent or as a business owner and we need more of that kind of diversity. It does seem like you look at these school board races, not only locally, but all over the country, it attracts a lot of people from the education world and as you’re pointing out, that doesn’t always result in the best outcomes. We need people with different perspectives. Unfortunately, though, what we’ve seen, I mean, I think back a couple years ago, Alex Sharpe was a very active, good, local school board member. He resigned. He said he was just tired of it. The time commitment, all of the other things that were going on, he stepped away. These are not easy jobs. People get on there with the best of intentions and they quickly figure out that it’s often hard to get things done, especially if you’re in the minority and they realize, too, it’s just a massive time commitment. In addition to the regular meetings, there’s all these special committee meetings, there’s all these external things and it’s all volunteer. Nonetheless, we need other types of people running for these seats.”

Jansen said, “The problem in education especially and it goes to this huge battle we’re having in this country where the Biden administration has stepped in to try to put a little bit of intimidation, very actually, in my opinion, incredibly dangerous intimidation when you’re using the federal government to squash free speech, which I’m sorry, we already have evidence of that. We already have parents who have shared with us they want to be involved with these groups that are trying to stand up against some of these things they don’t agree with that’s going on in public education and they’re being attacked because of what the Biden administration did with the DoJ and because we have a ridiculously un-journalistic mainstream media that just carries the water for that and is already out there with idiotic stories without proof that oh, these are domestic terrorists and these parents are being attacked, they’re being bullied. They’re being told, oh, you’re one of them? You’re one of those domestic terrorists? How dare you! You join the Moms for Liberty.”

An item on next week’s Chambersburg Area School Board agenda may be revision of policy on terroristic threats. What does that mean?

The state school board association in Virginia pushed back on the Biden administration’s attempts to mitigate parents at school board meetings by saying they are not going to allow the FBI to come in and work with local school boards.

Jansen said, “We should find out what the Pennsylvania School Board Association is saying about this. I’d like to see them step up and say, no we’re not going welcome FBI help. We have local enforcement to take care of anything.”

Ryan suggested, “They’re too busy with their lips pressed against Wolf’s fanny. You start hearing revision of terroristic threats on an agenda.”

Barkdoll pointed out, “Terroristic threats is actually in the Pennsylvania crimes code and it’s a very commonly charged crime, actually. People hear that and they think terrorism. No, it often is more someone that just makes a threat towards a private citizen or certain words or actions that are taken towards a private or a public citizen they can be charged with the crime of terroristic threats. It’s actually a fairly common charge, so I’m curious to see what the school district is doing with that particularly as it may interface with this new Department of Justice pronouncement. I’m still not clear on what Virginia did and a lot of legal experts are saying what is it the federal government’s doing? They’re saying they’re going to coordinate investigations. I don’t even know what that really means. We have local police, state police, that would be called if something like this happened at a school board meeting. What role should the federal government have? It’s not clear yet, I don’t think they’ve been able to point to any hard examples where the FBI is taking over a local or state investigation about something that happened at a school board. I don’t think local officials would want that to happen. It’s very murky. If and when it happens, I think you may see legal challenges on a jurisdictional level on why the federal government is even involved in something that’s happening at a local school board meeting.

There were some Chambersburg Police officers at a recent school board meeting in Chambersburg.

Jansen said, “You wonder if they’re not being a little bit indoctrinated by some of that nonsense the mainstream media puts out. Ridiculous. There was no need for extra police officers there that night. People were very reasonable.”

According to the New York Post, multiple school boards are rejecting the fed’s help.

Jansen said, “My understanding they were going to come in and train local law enforcement on how to recognize this kind of domestic terrorism.”

“Oh, brother,” Ryan said. “Where have we heard the training record play?”

Barkdoll said, “I think local police would roundly reject anything like that. I think they would even see it as insulting. They already are trained to file charges, whether it’s terroristic threats, or assault, whatever the case might be, so this really does seem like an overreach. Not only are states and local school boards rejecting this around the country, but it’s largely being rejected in the legal community. Legal commentators from the left, from the right, from the middle, they’re saying the federal government really doesn’t have the authority to do any of this.”