I read this post on Facebook from Howard County Board of Education member Kirsten Coombs yesterday and thought I would share it and provide some comments. Here is the text from the post:
I take my role on the Board of Education very seriously, and I maintain that it is our obligation as elected officials to listen and receive feedback from all perspectives, even when we may disagree. I feel one of my jobs is to provide information transparently about our Board processes to the entire community. It is also my job to function as an independent leader, and part of being a good leader is fostering difficult, but respectful, dialogue. It is imperative that we remain kind, civil, and respectful toward one another in this process. These are the values of Howard County, although it has not always felt like that in recent weeks.
I know many of you saw my daughter’s facebook post about how hurt she was by what some individuals said about her schools in Wilde Lake. This is nothing new to her, to me, or to the Wilde Lake community, but it is still hurtful. We chose to send our daughter to RBES, WLMS, and WLHS because of the vibrant diversity of the community and the amazing education she would receive inside and outside of the classroom. It was incredibly brave of her to speak up about her feelings, and I want to remind us of ALL of her cautions to us now.
Each Board member is approaching this process with their individual perspectives and backgrounds, and I fully support EVERY single member of this Board, including Mavis Ellis, Vicky Cutroneo, Sabina Taj, Jen Mallo, Chao Wu, and Christina Delmont-Small to share his or her opinions and perspectives without fear of being publicly harassed, shamed, or disrespected. Please recognize that we are people trying to fulfill a civic responsibility invested in us in the best way we can.
I also fully support the right of all members of the community to share their feedback and input to the Board, as long as that feedback is delivered respectfully. Threats of violence to Board members or HCPSS Administration and Staff are disappointing and alarming and I appreciate our Security staff for assuring our safety throughout this process.
Very soon, decisions on boundary adjustments must be made and will be made to implement the changes on impacted students, schools, and families to begin transitions. After November 21st, we will continue living in the same villages and towns. Understandably, emotions are running high, but we cannot allow our actions to tear our communities apart.
I will be taking a step back from responding on social media over the next two weeks, as I am working daily on finding a redistricting solution that best meets the needs of our entire county. I am still watching and listening to your feedback and emails, and I will remain fully engaged during our work sessions. Again, I promise to try my best to keep an open heart and mind in my decisions.
Here are my comments:
I know that this redistricting process has been difficult for many in our community. When it comes to our kids we are all passionate and all have strong opinions.
I have noticed the disrespect to our elected officials and members of our community (from those opposing “the plan” and those supporting “the plan”). I seriously hope that decreases over the next 14 days until we get a decision. Now I am not saying stop advocating for what you think is right…I am just hoping it is done in the right way going forward (one can hope…right).
I think most people knew coming into the redistricting process that this was going to be difficult…I do not think anyone saw it being this difficult or this divisive.
We get a final decision in 14 days (or that is the current plan) and we will have to move forward as a community. My hope is that our elected officials and community members work to bring our community back together when this is all said and done…no matter the final decision.