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Guest Opinion

Central Bucks report settles nothing; board needs a reset


The Central Bucks School District has a rich history of academic excellence that has long been a source of great pride for our community. Regrettably, our district’s reputation has been damaged because politically motivated school board members, who are supposed to be helping our schools, are instead creating more problems.

As a school board director who has served on our school board for eight years, strengthening our schools and supporting our students, I know the whole truth of what has happened — and I want to make sure the members in our community know, too.

In 2021, following a takeover of our school board by right- wing politicians, the new majority passed two policies — policies that did nothing to help our schools, divided our community, and distracted teachers and administrators from tending to what our students really need. These new policies threaten books and ban supportive symbols and accomplish absolutely nothing to address genuine issues facing our schools.

These new and harmful policies are borderline illegal, and by mid-2022, the ACLU and Education Law Center warned the district of potential lawsuits. Minority board members (Dr. Tabitha Dell’Angelo, Dr. Mariam Mahmud, and myself) and many community members spoke during board meetings to point out the obvious: using taxpayer money defending pointless lawsuits brought about by bad policy would be detrimental for our community and, especially for our students, who need this funding for classroom resources.

Unsurprisingly, the ACLU eventually filed a complaint against the district, which was taken up by the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Currently, this federal investigation is still pending. It has not been resolved. After receiving the ACLU complaint, the board majority could have simply taken the steps suggested by the ACLU to improve the environment for LGBTQ and all students; they chose not to.

Instead of seeing the dangerous path they were on, the right-wing political majority on our school board doubled down. It hired a politically motivated law firm to defend against the federal investigation, as well as a crisis communications public relations firm, which has cost taxpayers approximately $1 million.  That’s $1 million that could have gone to supporting students. Instead, taxpayer money was used to attack students and then hire expensive consultants to try and cover its tracks.

Recently, that politically motivated law firm released its “report,” which was not only full of misinformation but identified vulnerable students and attacked teachers who had pushed back against the board’s harmful, anti-LGBTQ policies.

The politically motivated school board majority has tried to pretend that its report settled the matter. It did not. A full and fair investigation by the federal Department of Education is still pending and indeed must proceed.

I’ve been a Republican for most of my life because I believe in fiscal responsibility and individual freedom.

For six years, I served proudly as a Republican on the school board. But the policies and actions of the right-wing majority on our school board drove me away from the Republican Party.

I changed parties to Democrat because I simply cannot align myself with the recklessness and the extremism of this new Republican Party. It doesn’t believe in individual freedom; it wants to control what students and families in our community believe, read and learn. It doesn’t believe in fiscal responsibility; it has spent over $1 million in taxpayer money defending extremist, unpopular and harmful policies.  

Our students are facing real and urgent crises, like learning loss, mental health struggles, and growing teacher shortages. We need to strengthen and support our schools and our teachers, not distract them with divisive partisan agendas.

It’s time to restore compassion and common sense to the Central Bucks School Board. I am running for reelection because I have a proven track record of being a strong leader and advocate on our school board. I have been here every day for eight years, making decisions that benefit our students. This has never been political for me; it has always been about doing what is best for our schools and for our community. I would be honored to have your support on May 16.

Karen Smith is a Central Bucks School District School Board Director in Region 1. She is running for reelection against Steve Mass.

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