I plan to use this page to respond directly to rumors, gossip, and social media misinformation. Please e-mail me if you hear or read something you have questions about.
Response to the Duane Morris report
The Central Bucks School District has a rich history of academic excellence that has long been a source of great pride for our community. Regrettably, our district’s reputation has been damaged because politically motivated School Board members who are supposed to be helping our schools are instead creating more problems. Now that they have realized their actions are so unpopular, they are trying to spread lies about what they have done.
As a School Board Director who has served on our school board for 8 years strengthening our schools and supporting our students, I know the whole truth of what has happened — and I want to make sure the members in our community know, too.
In 2021, following a takeover of our school board by right- wing politicians, the new majority passed two policies — policies that did nothing to help our schools, divided our community, and distracted teachers and administrators from attending to what our students really need. These new policies ban books and supportive symbols and accomplish absolutely nothing to address genuine issues facing our schools.
These new and harmful policies are not only immoral but borderline illegal, and, by mid-2022, the ACLU and Education Law Center warned the district of potential lawsuits. Minority board members (Dr. Tabitha Dell'Angelo, Dr. Mariam Mahmud, and myself) and many community members spoke during board meetings to point out the obvious: using tax-payer money defending pointless lawsuits brought upon by bad policy would be detrimental for our community and especially for our students, who need this funding for classroom resources.
Unsurprisingly, the ACLU eventually filed a complaint against the district, which was taken up by the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Currently, this federal investigation is still pending. It has not been resolved. After receiving the ACLU complaint, the board majority could simply have taken the steps suggested by the ACLU to improve the environment for LGBTQ and all students; they chose not to.
Instead of seeing the dangerous path they were on, the right-wing political majority on our school board doubled down. They hired a politically motivated law firm to defend against the federal investigation, as well as a crisis communications public relations firm, which has cost taxpayers approximately $1 million dollars. That’s $1 million dollars that could have gone to supporting students. Instead, tax-payer money was used to attack students and then hire expensive consultants to try and cover their tracks.
Recently, that politically motivated law firm released its “report,” which was not only full of misinformation but identified vulnerable students and attacked teachers who had pushed back against the board’s harmful, anti-LGBTQ policies. The politically motivated school board majority has tried to pretend that their report settled the matter. It did not. A full and fair investigation by the federal Department of Education is still pending and indeed must proceed.
I’ve been a Republican for most of my life because I believe in fiscal responsibility and individual freedom. For six years I served proudly as a Republican on the School Board. But the policies and actions of the right-wing majority on our school board drove me away from the Republican Party. I changed parties to Democrat because I simply cannot align myself with the recklessness and the extremism of this new Republican Party. They don’t believe in individual freedom; they want to control what students and families in our community believe, read, and learn. They don’t believe in fiscal responsibility; they have spent over $1 million in taxpayer money defending their extremist, unpopular and harmful policies.
Our students are facing real and urgent crises, like learning loss, mental health struggles, and growing teacher shortages. We need to strengthen and support our teachers and our schools, not distract them with divisive partisan agendas.
It’s time to restore compassion and common sense to the Central Bucks School Board. I am running for re-election because I have a proven track record of being a strong leader and advocate on our school board. I have been here, every day for 8 years, making decisions that benefit our students. This has never been political for me; it has always been about doing what is best for our schools and for our community.
Update on the ACLU situation
Act One, Lawsuits and Taxes
Have you been hearing something about a lawsuit that could result in your taxes being increased by 50%? This is not true.
Central Bucks is involved in an equal pay lawsuit. As of now there is no way to predict the outcome. It could be settled or it could go to trial. If it went to trial, the case could go on for several years. Any information you might hear now about a definitive outcome for this case is false.
It is also false that your taxes could be increased by 50 percent. In Pennsylvania we have a law called Act One. Act One prohibits school districts from raising taxes more than the Act One index in a year. Historically the Act One index is around 3 %, although this year it is at 4.1 percent.
In order to raise taxes more than the Act One index school districts have to go to a voter referendum. You as the voter can decide if you support the increase or not.
Library Book Policy & that Mailer
I love to read and I have shared that love with my children. It’s truly a sad thing that library books and reading have ignited a firestorm in our community and across the country.
Here’s the truth about the library book policy. Parents in Central Bucks have always been able to contact the librarian and restrict access to specific books. This procedure gives all families the ability to be involved in what their student reads.
Our books are selected by a team of professionals – librarians, teachers, editors, reviewers, and library associations to be age appropriate.
High school books are only available in our high schools. Middle school books are only available in our middle schools.
NO ONE has ever suggested or advocated that books meant for 16,17, 18 year olds should be read by elementary aged students. NO ONE.
Let’s talk about the narrative of my opposition. They attended public board meetings where children were present and read excerpts from books meant for older students out loud into a recording.
This recording is now posted on our school district website for anyone to hear.
They made copies of pictures from a book, again one meant for our oldest students, and took these pictures with them while canvassing door to door. They also took them to the polls. In both cases telling voters that I find it acceptable for 5 year olds to read the book.
I ask you – who is creating more access to these books? With these copies that are all over our community for thousands to see? If these books are truly such a negative influence why increase the exposure?
Unfortunately, my opposition eventually took a desperate step and sent a mailing to thousands of people in our community. The front of the mailing mentioned school. Because of this, elementary aged children opened this mailer thinking it came from school.
The pictures from the books inside the envelope are meant for young adults. Our oldest students. Remember, our school library books have age level protections maintained by our professional, trained librarians, so our younger students have absolutely no access to books for older students.
My opposition has done more to expose younger students to age-inappropriate material with this mailing than hundreds of library books could ever have done.
Of course none of this has ever been about protecting children. This is all just a distraction and a diversion and a pathetic attempt to smear me and my running mates. Because they know the policies they rammed through and wasted 1.2 million dollars on are very unpopular. They want everyone to talk about this one book which we had one copy of at one school, tucked away behind the library counter, instead of their remarkably terrible record over the past two years.
Response to Hunter/Mass editorial on Hamas
I want to express my deepest sorrow about the war in Israel. What Hamas did to the Jewish people is unspeakable and a deliberate act of terror. I unreservedly condemn Hamas and their terrorist attack on Israel and the ongoing threat they represent to the Jewish community. I pray for the Israeli hostages to be returned home swiftly and safely. And for those who were killed, I pray their memories will be a blessing.
In an interview conducted six months ago, I listed several organizations that could potentially help our schools become more culturally responsive. This doesn’t mean I endorse or support every program or position of each of those organizations. I certainly couldn’t have predicted how any of these organizations would respond to an attack that occurred six months later. As you can tell from the above, I wholeheartedly disagree with the position Rethinking Schools has taken on the attacks against Israel and the larger conflict.
The truth is I have consistently stood against all forms of hate including anti-Semitism. I fought against the policy that resulted in the removal of the quote by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel from our school’s library, and was appalled by that directive when it came. And I have consistently condemned antisemitic speech during board meetings. If re-elected I will continue to be a strong voice against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate and intolerance.