We waited thirteen months for this opportunity, and it was an incredible night. Many members of our community came out to show support for the importance of public education and it was so much more enriching being able to participate in person rather than just over video. I hope you take the time to watch the whole meeting as there was important content shared throughout the 2+ hours.
Myself, along with my husband & kids, were in attendance and three of us made public comments. The first was Aaron who appears around minute 47, and asks for clarity about the future of our district finances given then have – on average – risen more than $9M over the last eight years. If that trend continues, the WCASD annual budget will exceed $300M, and increase of more than $100M (or 50%) in just 10 years. For more information about the tax history of WCASD please see the chart below which tracks the published values of Annual Budget, Annual Budget Increase, and the historical Tax Increases in both Chester & Delaware Counties.
I speak right after Aaron, around minute 49, with comments as they relate to the conduct by the district as the evening’s agenda included policy updates on bullying, cyberbulling, and retaliation. First, I requested that Dr. Scanlon or the district Solicitor make it known for the public record that neither myself or Aaron have ever been or are currently named plaintiffs in any lawsuit against the district. This has been a rumor perpetuated by the district and other School Director candidates and it needs to be set straight.
Second, I presented information regarding the district’s actions to infiltrate private Facebook groups to use information shared in these group against the parents and their children. This is not speculation as I was sent district documents – emails – sent by Jen Neill (Facebook profile Jennifer Michelle) who was a member of the private WCASD Families for Brick & Mortar group and sent multiple screenshots of parents comments to Dr. Scanlon, Dr. Sokolowsi, and Mr. Wagman. This email was regarding the suppression of public comment at the January 25th board meeting – one I was not able to attend due to the recent passing my mother.
I explained in my comment that the participation of Ms. Neil and the use of screenshots by her was akin to the practice of Doxing.
As a member of that private group, Ms. Neil agreed to group rules that included the fact the content of the group was not to be shared outside of the group. When other members of WCASD staff were targeting for their membership in the group we asked that any current members who worked for or were spouses of employees remove themselves from the group. Ms. Neil violated both of those rules and in turn violated the trust of our WCASD Families. She continues to participate in other parent groups including the popular “Chat” group so while it is always good to be aware that comments shared on social media are rarely regarded with any sense of privacy, know that the district is watching and listening to the conversations.
The third member of our clan – Conor – rose to the occasion and was the second to last public comment of the event. For anyone wondering how we could put our child on display for public scrutiny…we didn’t. Conor asked to do this. Conor took it seriously enough to write his own speech, and choose an outfit for the event that would convey his respect for the seriousness of the meeting. This 11 year old has more maturity, more wisdom, and more soul than I think anyone I have ever met in my entire life. After he stayed by my mother’s side in her last days and showed her love & encouragement to let go…I didn’t think I could be any prouder of him. And then this happened…
He is 11 years old. And he is by far the calmest & clearest of us all that evening. I could cry just typing this because of how proud I am of him. For his poise. For his braveness. For his full & total investment in standing up for himself and the education he deserves.
The legacy I leave behind will not be measured by my resume or if I serve as a School Director. It will be measured by my children, and today I feel pretty darn good about what that will look like when I am gone.
I hope that members of our community will continue to come out and support these public meetings. They are our only forum for public comment and we need to make sure that our community is engaged and vocal. It’s the only way to ensure our district grows in the way that benefits our community and there is too much at stake to take it for granted. I hope to see you all at the next meeting!