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‘Problematic Issue’ Was Created By Pandemic – Not Political Ideals



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To the Editor,

Newtown, it has been my honor to serve on your Board of Education (BOE) for the last eight years, the last four being the Board Chair. I will be stepping away from the BOE this November and looking for your endorsement to serve the greater community on the Legislative Council. I look forward to sharing more about my run for Legislative Council District 3 as the election draws closer. However, at this time, I would like to address a couple of recent letters to the editor.

While serving on the BOE, my experience has been that BOE members have been steadfastly committed to keeping partisan politics out of the Board’s discussions. A recent letter to the editor written by William DeRosa (Co-Chair of the Republican Town Committee), however, makes an argument for the need for “conservative ideals to temper the whims of the majority rule.” In support of this, he states that during the pandemic last year conservative citizens took the lead in “pointing out problematic issues created by the BOE and offering solutions for how to mitigate them to get our children back in school.”

To be clear, decisions about when to use a hybrid, full-in, or distance learning model were not based on conservatism or liberalism, nor were they made by the Board of Education. The Superintendent made these decisions based on health indicators and the ability to adequately staff the district.

The district plan provided flexibility to the Superintendent and was unanimously approved by all members of the Board of Education — both Democratic and Republican. Indeed, the district faced staffing issues during December 2020 and January 2021, the height of the pandemic in Connecticut. This was due to quarantining and isolating protocols, and the district put out a call for help. I am very grateful to those who stepped up to serve as substitutes during that challenging time. But it should be clear that the “problematic issue” in January was created by the pandemic — not by political ideals and not by the Board of Education.

In another letter to the editor in the same issue, Sandy Roussas laments the political wrangling that happens at this time of year “not for the purpose of understanding a particular candidate’s point of view, but rather to make a spectacle for those watching in the cheap seats.” I wholeheartedly agree with Mrs Roussas, and I urge voters to seek out truth over the political dunk.

The efforts by teachers, staff, administrators, custodians, paraeducators, counselors, nurses, specialists, bus drivers, cafeteria personnel, community organizations, and parents throughout the 2020-21 school year were nothing short of amazing. A completely different educational model was designed and implemented with only three months to prepare. I will always remain in awe of what we accomplished as a community and stay grateful to everyone who played a role in making the 2020-21 school year work in the face of a pandemic.

(Opinions are my own and do not reflect my role in any official capacity.)

Michelle Embree Ku


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1 comment
  1. wdr says:

    In response to Ms. Ku letter I stand corrected regarding the BOE involvement with closing of schools . I sincerely apologize as it was a error on my part . I have a son who attends Newtown public schools and I actually support much of the fine work the BOE does which I know is a thankless job. What I was attempting to convey was that a group of Parents within the town of Newtown took it upon themselves to work with Lorrie Rodrigue in getting the Newtown Schools open. Other groups also contribute to the success of Newtown besides the Dem Party which Eric Paradis insinuated in his letter spinning the contents of a non partisan endorsement of Dan Rosenthal, Newtown First Selectman.

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