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Lack Of Defense For BOE Members Upsetting



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To the Editor,

“What disappointed me the most that night were those sitting at the table with me, who were not the target of the negative behavior, sitting idly by and to this day have not condemned the behavior that we were subjected to.” Having served for ten years now, this line from Janet Kuzma’s resignation letter was quite upsetting.

Newtown has seen its share of audience outbursts, but officials had a mutual respect and when things got heated members would effort to lower the temperature, speaking up against theatrics and personal attacks coming from those with whom they positionally aligned such that the body could conduct business. This is how we were able to deal with very emotionally charged issues like gun laws. I always respected my peers for doing so and tried to show them the same consideration.

Since the 2021 election, local activists who made clear their intent has been to “battle the right wingers at Board of Education meetings” and “keep the opposition in check,” have levied personal attacks and accusations against all Republican BOE members including the Chair.

So it was no surprise when supporters of that group dismissed her calls for order and decorum at the meeting on May 16th. In the past, this is where the other board members would have done something, but instead they remained silent. The Vice Chair, Mr Vouros, set the tone when he gave one speaker a thumbs up after an absurd spiel castigating Christians, concurrent with audience applause, only encouraging the behavior on display.

It is no secret that BOE member Dan Cruson met with the Democratic Town Committee, they posted about it on social media. The same DTC subsequently misled on the book challenges, put out a call to action (including soliciting out of town support) and organized a rally before the meeting where the crowd was so incited.

How much of this were the board members aware of? I truly hope that the silence on the audience’s behavior is not because these same folks supported Mr Cruson in the last election … “two and only two.”

The term started with gestures of good will; then RTC Chair Brestovansky said “some very good Democrats were elected,” and “our candidates look forward to working with them.” Deb Zukowski insisted on bipartisan leadership.

So, after hearing Jenn and Janet’s emotional accounts of what they have endured, it breaks my heart no one had the courage to step up and speak for their colleagues, an abdication that is an insult to the thousands of Newtowners who elected these two mothers to represent them.

It is Newtown that loses when leaders avert their eyes and partisans are allowed to run off willing volunteers.

My comments are my own as an individual and not on behalf of the Legislative Council of which I am a member.

Ryan Knapp

Sandy Hook

Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. bw.reloconsult@snet.net says:

    Seems to me some local partisan politicians are trying to change the subject. The issue was book banning, making an energized audience. The issue substitution is embarrassing. Let’s leave the Partisan Politics at the door or in Washington.

    1. ryan knapp says:

      The subject of book challenges dose not excuse behavior or lack of decorum and Id contest this abdication will have lingering effects long after any book challenges have been forgotten. In 2015 we saw how politicization of the BOF’s school closing recommendation put off dedicated and talented public servants, and I don’t fault the members who just resigned having seen what they have endured. It has gone too far and if we stand for volunteers being attacked personally for partisan reasons the Town is only going to end up with combative people willing to serve. The fact people did not respect Deb Z’s call for order says more about the audience than it does Deb; anyone should be able to Chair a meeting if they are so willing.

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