Tredyffrin / Easttown, Central Bucks school board meeting expected to be rocky

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – Tensions have risen during school board meetings in the region.

On Monday evening, the problems in two of these districts could reach a climax. Debates are expected at the Tredyffrin / Easttown School Board and Central Bucks School Board meetings.

Debates focus on diversity and freedom of expression for what some say are hateful comments.

“One of the big things is critical race theory,” said Terry Madonna, senior political affairs researcher at Millersville University. “The warrants for the masks. The warrants for the vaccines (are also issues).”

Some residents are pushing for more diversity, equity and inclusion in schools. This includes Lela Casey, who attends the Central Bucks School District.

SEE ALSO: Central Bucks School Board accused of permitting hate speech in public comment

“We want to embrace our communities, our marginalized communities. All the people who live here,” she said.

Other residents are concerned about critical breed theory and rumors that it is being taught in schools.

“They paid a California company to come and teach teachers how to incorporate CRT into the subjects they teach,” said Michael McTiernan of what he heard about the Tredyffrin / Easttown School District.

McTiernan says the district does not have any identifiable courses under the Critical Race Theory label.

He accuses the CRT program of being too confrontational because he believes it will teach white children that they are the oppressors and black children that they are oppressed.

“Everyone wants the same thing: a school without prejudice. We oppose the way they are trying to make this happen, ”McTiernan said.

Casey has his own theory of how the issue of CRT has become so hotly debated, even in school districts that don’t teach it.

“I really believe this is a controversy fabricated by the right to attack our public schools, creating these false narratives, these false divisions,” she said.

Madonna says that while Republicans are enjoying the debate, he doesn’t think they created it.

“I don’t think the Republicans are leading the charge so much, they can be happy that this is happening,” he said.

Casey is one of many people expected at the Central Bucks school board meeting on Monday night.

Interest in the meeting increased after a previous meeting included public comments from residents who some in the public believed to be hate speech against Jews and transgender people.

Casey tried to cut off commentators, but school board members allowed the controversial comments to continue, citing free speech.

As word of the controversial comments spread, four of the nine school board members signed a statement saying that while they support free speech, “We do not support this inflammatory speech, and we do not believe that it reflects the values ​​of the Central Bucks school district or the community. “

The board members who signed the declaration were Karen Smith, Tracy Suits, Lorraine Scuito-Ballasy and Jodi Schwartz. School board members Dana Hunter, Leigh Vlasblom, Dan Ring, Bob Farley and Sharon Collopy refused to sign the document.

In the month following the incident, parents mobilized to speak out.

“I’ve been to so many meetings and seen so many offensive things,” Casey said. “We have to be there for each other. We have to stand up for each other because this hatred will spread in our community.”

The Central Bucks School District will be sworn in for five new members at Monday night’s meeting, tilting the board of directors sharply to the right with six Republicans and three Democrats.

Madonna says school boards are getting more and more political. He doesn’t see the end of the debates anytime soon, but he urges civility.

“People have the right to go to school board meetings and voice their concerns. But there is a way to do it and a way not to do it, ”he says.

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