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Letters Dig deeper to root of School Board’s intimidation tactics


Dig deeper to root of

intimidation tactics

As a former teacher, junior high school principal and assistant to the superintendent of schools in Suffolk County, N.Y., I was outraged to read about the egregious tactics used by the Palm Beach County School District administrators in attempting to avoid transparency and public scrutiny. (“School leaders’ calls might silence dissent,” Sunday)

District administrators manage the school district on behalf of the community and, while they should be given the latitude to do their job, should welcome open input from teachers, students, and the community they serve.

If the facts as reported are correct, Regional Superintendent Frank Rodriguez and Assistant Regional Superintendent Geoff McKee attempted to pressure 15-year-old Miguel Cardenas into not speaking out at an upcoming public meeting. In fact, The Palm Beach Post cites a number of sources saying that this is not an isolated incident and others have reported feeling pressured not to speak out in public.

Prior to Miguel speaking at the board meeting, School Board Chairman Chuck Shaw told the speakers, “Under no circumstances, please, do not use any individual’s names or anything along that line.” This was yet another attempt to intimidate Miguel and other speakers and perhaps restrict their right to free speech.

Having served in a similar capacity as Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. McKee, I wonder what it is that district administrators and the school board feel the need to hide.

As a loyal subscriber and reader of The Palm Beach Post, I thank Andrew Marra for writing the story, and I encourage the editorial team to pursue the story in more depth. However, investigative reporting alone may not be enough.

As a concerned citizen, I question just how closely these individuals came to violating the civil rights of Miguel and others. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that Pam Bondi, attorney general for the state of Florida, should be concerned about the actions of Rodriguez, McKee and Shaw, and should initiate an investigation.

I also wonder whether the American Civil Liberties Union might want to reach out to Miguel and others to determine if their rights have been violated. Perhaps more realistically, a local attorney might wish to consider offering pro bono advice and counsel to those planning to speak out at future School Board meetings.

DAVID LEFTON, BOYNTON BEACH

Trump’s ‘enemies’ are

keystone of democracy

The president’s latest attack on the media, calling them America’s enemy, is frightening. I truly believe that the very foundation of our beloved American society is being threatened.

If you have studied history, you have learned that a majority of the dictators of the world, especially the maniacal, murdering Adolf Hitler, rose to power by attacking the free press, imprisoning or murdering dissenting journalists and, of course, by lying to the populace. Whether or not you believe what the press is reporting, it is incumbent upon all Americans to defend these most precious freedoms: freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The way the president is maligning the media is a form of brainwashing. If you hear something enough times from a person in authority, the subconscious mind tends to accept that statement as truth.

Please, please recognize this tactic and defend our right to free expression.

JUDIE JACOBSON, LAKE WORTH

Free speech too vital

to be squelched

Never give in to intimidation, speak.

After reading Sunday’s front page article, “School leaders’ calls might silence dissent,” Leonard Pitts column, “To our so-called president: I refuse to shut up and obey,” and listening to Sen. John McCain on the suppression of free speech, I had to write.

Andrew Marra’s story about Lake Worth High School’s brave citizens and their efforts to express themselves in front of a recent Palm Beach County School Board meeting about a vice principal were very disturbing.

These speakers, one of whom was only 15 years old, were tag-teamed by Regional Superintendents Rodriquez and McKee to “dissuade sensitive topics in a public forum.” One student, Miguel was taken from class and interviewed by these two adult males about what he was going to say. Would this be intimidating to Miguel? Even for me, an adult white woman.

Leonard Pitts reminded me that the Palm Beach County School Board and these superintendents are public servants working for the taxpayers. Their job is to keep Palm Beach County schools running. It is the 13th-largest school district in America with more than 176,700 students and 20,800 staff. One would think superintendents should have more important jobs to do than intimidating.

The school is supposed to be an arena of education serving children in a safe, nurturing environment suited to expand the mind. It seems to me that Assistant Principal Terence Hart was doing his job well. He gave Miguel and all the others the strength to speak.

Thank you, Palm Beach Post, for a free press.

KATHY SMITH, DELRAY BEACH

Charen finally got

one I agree with

Although I disagree with much of what Mona Charen writes in her From the Right columns, her recent piece, “Nationalism, not patriotism, is Trump’s dangerous style” (Monday), distinguishing between patriotism and nationalism, was right on the mark.

It is too bad that too many shameless legislators who are from the right are so hungry to accept the votes that the president’s supporters bring to them that they ignore the truths Charen addresses, as well as many other truths.

JACK LIPPMAN, BOYNTON BEACH

NATO slackers must

pay their fair share

Why should the United States have to pick up the lion’s share of NATO funding? Obviously, the other members don’t feel obliged. After all, the good ol’ USA will be there to protect them.

Each member of NATO is obligated to pay only 2 percent of their gross domestic product to finance NATO, however, the USA has the highest GDP of any nation, but still contributes dramatically more than any other nation.

The USA, Greece, U.K. and Poland are meeting their obligation, however, 22 other NATO members are not. This sure doesn’t seem fair to me. If the USA could pick up 3.5 percent of our GDP with a $20 trillion national debt, what about the other 22 slackers?

MIKE SOFRANKO, LAKE WORTH

Editor’s note: According to the Associated Press, only five of NATO’s 28 member countries last year met the alliance goal of spending at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

Protesters had better

hope they voted

Eight years ago, the country elected Barack Obama. Not my vote, but I decided to see what he could do differently than his predecessor. Fast-forward, and now we have Donald Trump in office to see what he can do.

I’d love to see a new “policy” for protesters. If you voted, feel free to express your views and opinions. But if you didn’t vote, we really don’t care about what you have to say. If you wish to be heard, you need to be an active voting citizen. If you won’t do that, then shut up and get out of the way.

DICK BISSELL, JUPITER



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