Why don’t school boards want to hear from parents?

November 18 – School board members are elected officials. They are elected by the parents and community members in the districts they serve.

And yet, it seems many of the school board members don’t want to have parents exercise their ability to speak and ask questions at school board meetings.

One example of that comes from remarks from outgoing school board member Sally Brooks at Tuesday night’s Chambersburg Area School Board meeting.

Brooks said, ““I asked to make this statement intending to berate the self-centered protestations of the uninformed small minority of the public who come here to the meetings to confront the board over the past few months.”

State Senator Doug Mastriano, attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the attitudes of school boards during First News.

“It’s appalling,” Ryan said. “And thank God that is out of the (Chambersburg) school board. Jansen, you heard these remarks and frankly, you’ve been at the receiving end of these remarks.”

“Oh yeah,” Jansen confirmed. “She has very much insulted me for standing up to say something. I wasn’t there to confront the school board. I was there to ask questions, as for transparency, maybe bring up something they might not know about because there are policies being put through at school boards and into school districts right now. We’ve heard it from across the country. Loudon County, Virginia, and many other places across the country. There’s no reason to think that Pennsylvania is immune from the ideology that’s swept into education programs all across the country. We know they exist. We know Joe Biden supports them. We know popular media supports them. Disney supports them. They’re feeding our kids this ideology about systemic racism and the oppressed versus the privileged. We know that’s out there. We also know it’s getting into programs like social emotional learning, like trauma informed. Governor Wolf put an executive order in to make Pennsylvania a trauma informed state. It goes to all agencies of the state. They have to be trained in this. It goes to all municipalities of the state and it also goes to our education system. I believe public school teachers are already being trained in it. The problem is when trauma informed started it was about kids who’ve experienced terrible traumas, which we know happened, and trying to be sensitive to that and help them. Same thing with Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Unfortunately both of those programs have now been polluted with the ideas of systemic racism, collective trauma based on generational things and again based in oppression and systems of power and privilege that have to be knocked down. You can see it in the governor’s own document. He has that stuff in there. So I’m not making this up. I’m not pulling it out of the air. It’s in the actual plan. Trauma Informed Pennsylvania Plan. It’s actually in there. They’re trying to put a trauma informed policy right now into Chambersburg Area School District and they all have these SEL plans that now used to only be for certain students, now it’s for all students, K through 12. These are things that parents have questions about. Very fair to ask these questions and we need to look into it.”

Mastriano said, “Well I think the crux of the problem here is we have a school board member there who is obviously out of sync with what the parents want and they’re there to serve the people. This elite view of mocking people who have a different opinion, I’m sick of it. I see it in Harrisburg. And shame on her. Glad she’s gone. She’s not fit to serve because with that kind of attitude, you’re not serving. You’re advancing your own agenda.”

Ryan said, “Shame on anybody that says that to a taxpayer. You work for us.”

Jansen said, “Mr. Finucane and Miss Scritchfield, they actually went out on a high note, talking about the importance of dialogue and things like that. So I appreciated that.”

Trace Gallagher from Fox News discussed the FBI parent probe last night where he said, “The whistleblower is reportedly an FBI agent who provided several Republican lawmakers with an internal memo from the heads of the FBI’s criminal and counter-terrorism divisions. The memo directed FBI agents to flag any criminal threats or intimidation against educators by using a quote threat tag, which allows agents to one, gauge whether a threat is on a national level and two, provide information to state and local law enforcement. The FBI says a threat tag, quoting here, in no way changes the longstanding requirements for opening an investigation. Nor does it represent a shift in how the FBI prioritizes threats.”

Barkdoll said, “It is really alarming. This internal memo that was leaked, I mean my concern about it is if they were assigning you a score, so basically if you went to a meeting and you made comments that were somehow deemed threatening and then you’re assigned this score, that memo suggests that you’re being placed into some kind of a watch list or a database that might even be shared with state and local law enforcement, this is where we get into that realm of big brother. Even if you legitimately went to the meeting, you’re up there asking tough questions, suddenly now you’re on some kind of a list and what does that mean? Is someone able now to scrutinize other things in your life that you’re doing? I mean that is not the way our system should be working. It will be interesting to see what the Department of Justice comes out with today in response to this internal memo that was leaked. This is something we’ve all been suspicious of for weeks, but the DoJ, (Merrick) Garland, they’ve denied that these kind of things are going on which is probably what prompted this internal whistleblower to come out with the memo.”

Jansen pointed out, “Lots of news media did all kinds of oh, it’s ridiculous. The FBI is not coming after you. I’m just seeing report after report from mid and early October. That’s not happening. That’s not true. Well, we found out maybe it is true.”

Barkdoll said, “That is really unfortunate. A public official at any level to describe the public in that way. These are really not people that should be in office. They should be welcoming a diversity of opinions and to go out with those kind of comments, it’s really unfortunate. Here’s an elected official that’s there to serve and then makes comments that would demean anyone that comes in to speak or address the board.”