With one daughter already in college, and another graduating from Central Bucks High School this year, Rick Haring could easily have found plenty of leisurely things to do with his spare time. Instead, he made the decision to run for a seat on the Central Bucks school board because he sees a school district in crisis.
“Every student deserves to have a school where teachers feel trusted, supported and valued to be their creative selves and are able to welcome every student to equitable and safe spaces where they can thrive and learn about all aspects of the world,” he said.
Haring is running to represent Region 6 which comprises six election districts: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8. The seat he’s hoping to win is currently occupied by Sharon Collopy, who is not running for another four-year term.
Collopy gained notoriety earlier this year when she proposed a revision to Policy 011: Board Governance Standards/Code of Conduct applicable to the school board. Her quest was to remove phrases such as “promoting public education as a keystone of democracy,” and “engage the community by seeking input,” referring to them as “extra words” that she didn’t like.
A marketing and communications executive, Haring knows all too well the impact words can have. The attempt to revise Policy 011 is but the tip of the iceberg in what he feels has gone wrong with the current school board.
Plagued with policies Haring refers to as “draconian,” the current 6-3 right-wing slanted board has implemented book bans and forbidden the display of pride flags, among other things, despite teachers and students imploring the board not to do so.
“These students are opening themselves up and voicing what they’re looking for. Doesn’t matter. They’re just ignored,” Haring said when talking about the current board’s response to students, parents and taxpayers who have offered public comment at school board meetings.
“The policies that have been implemented are just ridiculous. And they were unnecessary. They were not based on any data or any input that showed there was a reason for needing them,” Haring added.
He’s not alone in this feeling. Haring is one of five school board director candidates supported by Central Bucks School Board Neighbors United whose mission is to advocate for a safe and inclusive environment for all students.
Haring also points to the poor oversight and fiscal irresponsibility of the current board citing the ACLU legal complaint filed against the district and their retention of attorney William McSwain at $940 an hour.
Additionally, the board engaged public relations agency Devine + Partners who specialize in “issues management” in an attempt to try and make palatable widely unpopular policy revisions for the tidy sum of $15,000 a month plus expenses. Devine + Partners resigned their 12-month engagement in February saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
Haring sees the need to return balance to a school district that was thrown into chaos following the 2021 municipal elections when four candidates, sponsored in part by local right-wing millionaire Paul Martino, commandeered the school board.
“The school board is not political. It’s not. It shouldn’t be, and that’s exactly what it is right now. And it is wrong,” Haring said.
Trusting the expertise of librarians to select enriching and diverse books, supporting LGBTQ+ students, abolishing wasteful spending, and retaining, as well as attracting quality teachers to the district, are key to Haring’s campaign platform.
“Public education matters,” he said. “I plan to work for every student, every day, no matter what it takes.”