In its District 97 school board endorsements, Wednesday Journal has embraced the status quo. I entered this race aiming to provoke discussion over that status quo. So let’s continue the conversation. 

I believe the current board has pursued its collaboration with Supt. Al Roberts to the detriment of its relations to the community. The board’s statement of purpose holds that it “engages in an ongoing two-way conversation with the entire community,” yet I see little evidence of this conversation taking place. Let’s leave aside past controversies, such as Fast ForWord and the iPad rollout, and address a current issue: the dress code at Julian Middle School. This dress code and its enforcement have led to repeated instances of teachers and staff punishing our girls for allegedly improper attire. With tape measures in hand, teachers routinely stop girls in school hallways and subject them to public humiliation, scolding them while measuring hemlines and strap widths. These episodes have gone on over several years and show no sign of abating. 

Concerned Julian parents raised this issue with Supt. Roberts last August, and were assured that the matter would be addressed. When the episodes continued, parents again raised the issue in January. To date, their concerns have not been addressed. As recently as March 25, with the school year nearing its end, prominent school board members approached on this matter insisted that this does not fall under their purview and that the ball remained in Roberts’ court. 

If it’s not the business of the school board to address issues such as these, what then is its purpose? How have we gotten to this, where administration stonewalling and school board unaccountability have become the new normal? The board’s culture has drifted into insularity, and needs to be shaken back into sensibility. Parents, we need to step up our game.

John Abbott

District 97 school board candidate

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