Citizens, House candidate speak out at School Board meeting

About 20 people addressed the Pulaski County School Board on Tuesday night about its transgender student policy and concerns over the school system’s equity plan.

The meeting featured two public comment periods – the first of which was limited to 10 people. No one chose to speak during that first period, rather choosing to speak at the second comment period at the end of the meeting in which the number of speakers was not limited.

The first speaker noted that pass rates as outlined during the meeting by Dr. Paige Cash’s presentation were also influenced by conditions in a student’s home – and in many cases the lack of a father figure living in the home.

Gina Paine said in the last meeting, School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers declared Critical Race Theory is not being introduced in the school system’s curriculum.

Critical Race Theory is a radical ideology that focuses on race as the key to understanding society, and objectifies people based on race.

She proceeded to list a number of examples in the state Department of Education (VDOE) guidelines on equity that are informed by authors such as Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi who promote Critical Race Theory, and several proponents of the re-imagined U.S. history rooted in the ideology of the “1619 Project” – a collection of writings that try to re-frame the history of the U.S. by saying slavery is central to the country’s development and even today has an impact on the nation.

Most historians and renowned academics – black and white – discount the 1619 Project’s account of history and site factual inaccuracies and lack of historical record to back up many of its claims.

Several Department of Education videos, Paine said, specifically refer to Critical Race Theory that separates people based on group identity.

“Why would the VDOE use guidance from a book entitled, “White Privilege,” Paine asked.

“Why are they using guidance from a book entitled, ‘How to be An Anti-Racist?’ Anti-racist is a concept that holds that all white people are racist and that all institutions of society are racist,” Paine said.

“You declared you’re following the guidance. This is in their guidance,” Paine stated.

Pastor Donald Jones of Pulaski Church of God said members of the clergy in the county met recently with both School Board Chairman Tim Hurst and School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers and that great interaction occurred. “The temperature in the room stayed intact,” he said.

Jones said his intention in attending Tuesday night’s meeting was to come in and assist in “dialing back the temperature.”

“I have to say, though, what is extremely troubling for me is our superintendent’s disregard for the clergy of the community in this area called the Equity Act and the Model Policy for the Treatment of Transgender Students,” Jones said.

“Since that meeting a week ago, I have now been exposed through seeing and hearing documentation sent from Dr. Siers’ desk where he diminishes the role of clergy in the community, and these all-important decisions concerning the kids of our county.

“Ten days after the last spirited public meeting, sir you sent an email basically vilifying the pastors of the county where you implied the clergy were dehumanizing transgender students,” Jones said to Siers.

“That is the furthest thing from the truth,” Jones stated. “We want to see all students safe.

“The inference in that email was that clergy are fueling hate, ignorance and fear. Quite the contrary. We in the pastoral community are doing what we can to one, protect the bodies of our kids from mischievous predators, and two, protect the minds of our kids from anyone who would try to indoctrinate them through curriculum or even ‘fun-time reading’ that goes away from the traditional family values that a large majority of this county hold close to their hearts.

“We simply do not desire transgender non-binary material to be shared with our kids,” Jones said.

Jones said that, in his email communication as he did with the clergy, Siers likened last month’s meeting to a war worse than the two tours in Iraq where he served.

“And yet, you go on the offensive against clergy with the VDOE just a few days after that meeting.”

At that point Jones’ three minutes to speak ended. However, the next speaker – Billy Williams – said he was yielding his time to Jones so he could finish his comments.

“Sir (Siers), you have led us to believe in multiple meetings you were going along to get along when in reality I now know you are strongly in favor of the Equity Act and the transgender policies and all that it entails. You are a strong proponent and referring to the now infamous email sent from your desk, you stated, ‘We are committed to moving things forward in Pulaski County and will do what we can to keep the detractors marginalized in the processes that are developing.’ Clergy being a part of the detractors,” Jones continued.

Jones said it has come to the clergy’s attention that for fun-time reading “transgender-friendly materials have been introduced quite possibly without parental knowledge right here in places in our county. If this is not required reading for academic purposes, should it not be eliminated from fun-time reading all-together?” He asked if Siers is willing to instruct early elementary educators to refrain from sharing this material with their very impressionable students?

“Indoctrination of students to alternate lifestyles without parental consent is simply unacceptable,” Jones stated.

Seventh District Republican House of Delegates candidate Marie March warned of the “blowback” that could occur with the transgender policy.

“It has the potential to create victimization among females and males in their respective bathrooms and locker rooms. It will create unnecessary conflict in the classrooms. It will also create a potentially hostile environment for students and teachers with values that conflict with this policy,” March said.

“This policy targets the majority of the population who is not transgender. This is an attack by the ‘woke’ mob. And it is time that we stop giving in. We are not California, and we are not New York. Are we going to allow these flagrant, liberal attacks to run our schools or are we going to run our schools?

“I understand the purpose of this policy is to ensure Pulaski County is in line with state mandates. I understand that this policy is not necessarily the product of the beliefs of each member of the school board.  As a firm believer of local control, I want to ensure the board and the concerned citizens here today that in Richmond, I will not give in to these attacks that trickle down to our localities. I will fight back, and I implore the school board to do the same,” March said.

March also stated that, once in Richmond, she would work as an advocate for school choice.

There were more speakers who addressed the board. You can view the entire meeting on YouTube. Just search for Pulaski County School Board and find the video for the June 8, 2021 meeting.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot