It was alarming earlier this year to learn about the very poor policy and position that the Central Bucks School Board took related to book and library policy. I wrote in these pages that the board was both setting a very bad policy and that it was shirking its responsibilities by proposing to delegate content decisions to some appointed oversight board, the members of which would likely be appointees of the current board and thus unlikely to be independent.
We have learned that the board is now under investigation for discrimination and harassment by the ACLU on behalf of LGBTQ students. Public service is hard and public servants are often targets of criticism and agenda driven lawsuits. However, it is clear that the actions and statements of this board, if not in direct violation of the law, have provoked and inflamed a segment of the population to take this kind of drastic action. Imagine being so provoked that you would band together and sue your school?
This lack of capability, experience, and leadership manifests further with the recent revelation of the hiring of William McSwain, a lawyer, to conduct an internal investigation of the ACLU claim. Mr. McSwain is an accomplished lawyer but he does have a history of supporting the defense in cases of restricting gay rights or discrimination against gays. So an appointment that could reasonably seen by many as partisan driven was the best decision the board could make – out of all the civil liberties or rights lawyers in the world, they chose Mr. McSwain.
I fear that we will be wasting public funds on this appointment as it will likely recommend nothing and likely will convince few and further inflame the community. Whereas the board should be settling this accusation through direct engagement and dialogue, they are digging in, provoking, and otherwise demonstrating poor judgment and leadership with decisions like this.
We can disagree with each other and our representatives on policies and issues. Often this is sufficient to generate action and activism. In this particular case, the urgency to address this situation is paired with poor judgment and decision making, which degrades our community reputation and costs our students resources.
Doug Black, Furlong