Central Bucks School District Superintendent Abram Lucabaugh sent an email Wednesday to teachers and staff requesting their attendance to a series of town halls to discuss new Policy 321, which will ban LGBTQ Pride flags and muzzle discussions and teaching in the classroom.
“Over the next several weeks I will be hosting six ‘town hall’ forums for our teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators to listen, ask questions, and open a dialogue to better understand how we can position you to engage in your work within the context of this policy and to do so with confidence and impact,” wrote Lucabaugh in an email leaked to the Bucks County Beacon.
But why weren’t teacher and staff feedback elicited and prioritized during the crafting of the policy?
“As a teacher, I not only feel unheard and untrusted, I ache for our students – not just LGBTQ+ students – all students because Policy 321 is an attempt to close them off from the world that exists outside of Central Bucks,” said Rebecca Cartee-Haring, an English teacher at CB West High School. “Teachers need real leadership from our administration and not a PR tour after a decision has already taken from us our teachable moments.”
Indeed. However, that is what teachers are left with.
The school board voted 6-3 on Tuesday night after ignoring student, teacher, and community input to approve the much-maligned policy immediately after two right-wing school board members endorsed by a local militia went off on angry and petty diatribes against dissenting colleagues without giving them a chance to respond – all while Lucabaugh obediently sat by in silence.
School board members Tabitha Dell’Angelo, Mariam Mahmud, and Karen Smith voted against the policy, while Moms for Liberty members Debra Cannon and Lisa Sciscio, along with Jim Pepper, Dana Hunter, Leigh Vlasblom, and Sharon Collopy voted for it.
“We are alarmed that Central Bucks School District approved another policy that will further dehumanize and discriminate against gay, transgender and nonbinary students,” wrote the Education Law Center. It continued to point out that “[t]he vague and overbroad Policy 321 will only serve to censor educators, driving more from the field, and prevent all students from respectful, enriching classroom discussions that prepare them for success as adults.”
“I find the intention of this policy to be disrespectful and demeaning to our staff. Using words like ‘indoctrinate’ and ‘coerce’ to describe how our staff might interact with our students is disparaging and insulting,” school board member Smith told the Bucks County Beacon for an earlier article. “I trust our teachers to handle all topics in a balanced manner.”
The administration and right-wing majority apparently doesn’t. But these “town hall’ meetings apparently want to create the impression that they care about what they think.
“There is nothing he [Superintendent Lucabaugh] can say now that will make me believe he cares about our LGBTQ+ students,” added teacher Cartee-Haring. “In fact, I don’t know how he can listen to his students speak at school board meetings and say nothing. I have lost any ounce of respect for him I had left.”
The first meeting is Tuesday at CB East High School at 3 p.m.