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Central Bucks board member speaks out about negativity

Parents warn of potential legal action


Central Bucks School Board met Tuesday to discuss its Health and Safety Plan, and replacement of the vice president, who resigned during the previous meeting.
Karen Smith, a board member, spoke up before public comment, saying “the least I can do is say something,” after community members and parents reached out to her about the negativity present in the meetings. She said that she would repeat that the school does not condone the bullying or harassment after each negative comment.
John Gamble, the board’s vice president, resigned at the previous meeting citing the harassment he and his family had received over the Health and Safety Plan from both sides of the debate. Gamble and his wife received police protection after Gamble received death threats from the community.
After the board initially voted against universal masking, John Gamble said he was considered “public enemy number one.”
“Covid has broken you people, and it’s disgusting,” Gamble said when he announced his resignation, addressing the room of community members. “I watch how you treat each other here. It’s disgusting.”
Smith said that she is not in favor of a plan that doesn’t require a doctor’s sign-off on the mask exemption form. The form allows parents to send their children to school unmasked because they are unable to wear a mask due to medical, mental, or a disability.
Previously, the board voted 5-4 in favor of following Gov. Tom Wolf’s order, which was released on Aug. 31. The order instituted universal masking and applies to K-12 schools, public and private, for all students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status. The order went into effect on Sept. 7.
“Since your own liability is your concern, the Pennsylvania Department of Education published a letter to a school district that failure to comply is a violation of the law,” Dabiella Burg, an attorney from Furlong said. “Please make no mistake, if you don’t require medical documentation, you are opening yourself up to liability and a negligence action.”
Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer had reported that Gov. Wolf said those who allow medical exemptions without medical approval violate the state order.
“The message from the state education department didn’t threaten specific consequences,” reported the Inquirer, “but pointed to a letter it sent this week to one district deemed noncompliant, warning that school officials could be found in violation of state laws and that the district could face legal action.”
TJ Kosin, a Warwick parent accused online of identifying with a far-right anti-government group, had come to the meeting and said that the community needed to “be better.”
“Since this misinformation campaign against me and the media,” he said, “this group has been showing exactly what extremism is.”
Kosin said that his son, a minor with autism, had been accused of not having a disability because it was not visible. He also said he had received death threats.

Kosin and his wife’s charity, Proud American Patriots Network (PAPN), was reported on by Jared Holt, a fellow at the Digital Forensics Lab in Washington. Holt had said the network identified with the Three Precenters, and sought to recruit from online militia movement communities.
At the meeting, the board failed three roll-call votes to elect a new vice president of the board to serve until the December reorganization meeting. Tracy Suits and Leigh Vlasblom argued over the election, alleging lack of representation for the minority in the board. Roll call votes to elect members like Karen Smith, Lorraine Sciuto-Ballasy, and Sharon Collopy ended in stalemates.
Five seats are up for grabs on the board this election cycle including District 9, which Gamble vacated.
Candidates Diana Leygerman, an English teacher in the Philadelphia area, and Jim Pepper, a attorney in Doylestown, are campaigning for the open seat, which will be voted on Nov. 2.
A president and vice president are elected every year during the reorganization meeting, which is held during the first week in December.
As masking has become universal at the CBSD, the legal suit against the district under the Americans with Disabilities Act will stay in a holding pattern, said the organizer.
Susan Lipson, the organizer, posted an update Sept. 7, saying that the law firm had already spent most of the money in preparation to take the board to court the day after the meeting if it did not institute masking.
“We now must wait for a couple of weeks to see if we do indeed need to go to court based on what the school district does over these next couple of weeks.” she said. The remaining amount of money will be donated to a non-political cause in the district, Lipson said.
The lawsuit was instituted against the district after the board initially voted not to pass its Health and Safety plan initially, which followed CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics guidance.
During the previous meeting Dr. Abraham Lucabaugh was appointed as district superintendent. The board voted to approve his contract with the district, which set his term to end in 2026. The board also elected Barbara Markowitz as school board treasurer.
According to the contract, a superintendent has a right to speak on all issues before the board, and hold a seat, but is unable to vote. The annual salary would start at $225,000 a year, and is required to be evaluated yearly by the board. If the board deems him “proficient” during this evaluation, the language says, he will gain a 2% increase yearly.
The next meeting for the board is at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28, at the Central Bucks Education Services Center in Doylestown.