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Letter: Covid Did Not Create the District's Problems; It Illuminated and Amplified Fissures That Already Existed

typewriterThis letter was submiteed by Roger Neustadt:
There is a critical school board election next month. The traditional process in Scarsdale includes a thorough vetting process by elected members of our community (the SBNC). This committee met with many candidates, and actively decided not to slate current board Vice President Alison Singer. I agree with this outcome and encourage residents to similarly reject the status quo.

The global pandemic was nobody’s fault, and no one could have navigated this unprecedented year without challenges. But I will argue that Covid did not create the problems our district faced this year; rather, the crisis illuminated and amplified fissures in the district that already existed.

Communications and process transparency have been consistent issues for this administration long before the pandemic. And the Board, bound by a reactionary and closed off culture of their own making, has not sufficiently or compassionately exercised their oversight role. Generally, Board leadership runs interference for the administration instead of proactively representing the best interests of the students, parents and community. Supporting healthy parent and family engagement, bolstering faculty morale, and prioritizing fiscal planning that aligns to community values have all been neglected for years. We could have and should have done better. Service records should be scrutinized. Alison Singer may well be a good person doing admirable professional work, but her leadership on the board this year, and service over the last 3 years, are what matters for this election. And it has not been an impressive term.

Several current Board members are publicly supporting the re-election of Ms. Singer. For a board that has been roundly criticized for its silence concerning critical educational decisions, it’s a strange time to speak up, and publicly reject the very process that got them elected. Hypocrisy, perhaps. Maybe it is directly related to the scrutiny that faces all current board members? Claiming to weigh in as private citizens, both Bob Klein and Carl Finger directly reference their board experience with Singer, not their knowledge of her in other areas. Boards of Education traditionally refrain from making campaign endorsements. While their disclaimers may offer veiled cover, these endorsements remain ethically questionable at best, and just more of the same nonsense the village has accepted for too long.

There are three strong candidates to consider for Board of Education that represent the promise of change. The two candidates who were slated by the nominating committee, Jim Dugan and Jessica Resnick-Ault, and an additional challenging candidate Irin Israel, who did everything he could to effect change this year. It is imperative on May 18th that we move the Board forward. I encourage everyone to use both of their votes for these candidates. We cannot have another Board year like the one through which we all just suffered.

Roger Neustadt
28 Franklin Road

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