Letter: Slandered school committee members deserve apologies

Posted 12/2/21

To the editor:This has been a difficult time for three members of the school committee because of the unjustified and harmful slander by which a handful of school student union organization members …

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Letter: Slandered school committee members deserve apologies

Posted

To the editor:

This has been a difficult time for three members of the school committee because of the unjustified and harmful slander by which a handful of school student union organization members who saw fit to publicly label them as racists and call for their resignations. Apparently it is okay now to call those with whom you simply disagree, racists, based solely on the most superficial of evidence.

It is not the students with whom I am most disappointed. It may be their parents. It certainly is the gaggle of adults, supposedly mostly teachers, who stood in solidarity with the kids as they besmirched the good names and reputations of Marjorie McBride, Sheila Ellsworth and Tara Thibaudeau. The children seemingly did so simply because these three committee members voted along with two other members to disapprove the award of a $7,000 grant to a woman and her weak project-based learning program to provide professional development training to Bristol Warren teachers.

I believe the majority made the correct decision, and race had nothing to do with it. Had the students and their adult supporters bothered to do their due diligence, perhaps they too might have come to the realization that the program was replete with critical race theory ideology jargon and that both the consultant’s resumé and her Freedom Dreams program lacked the substance that would warrant entrusting her and her program with providing professional development training to our district’s teachers at the cost of $7,000.

I am greatly disappointed that these slanders have gone unchallenged by other members of the committee, the administration or the public. The vicious slander of “racist” cannot be allowed to stand.

Personally, I have known Mrs. McBride and her family for many years and have come to know well Ms. Ellsworth and Ms. Thibaudeau more recently. I can assure every parent of a child in the Bristol Warren Regional School District that there is not a racist bone in their bodies. Five school committee members made the decision they believed to be in the best interests of students, teachers and the district. Four members of the committee disagreed. But that is no basis for anyone to label these three women with the most outrageous, vicious and harmful of libels.

There are some students, parents, teachers and adults who should be ashamed of themselves for seeking to cause such serious harm to the good names and reputations of these serious-minded, dedicated and responsible public servants or for remaining silent while such harm was being caused by mean spirited uninformed people. It seems to me that a public apology is owed to these three school committee members by anyone who actively or passively condoned the slander.

Pete Hewett 
11 Wendy Drive

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.