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Alfred-Almond Meeting Has Heated Public Comment

July 6, 2023

At the Wednesday evening Alfred-Almond Central School Reorganizational meeting, Earl Pierce was voted in again as Board of Education president, and Gary Acker as BOE vice president. Also, Superintendent Brett Dusinberre was sworn in, and Maeghen Kuhn was sworn in as a school board member.

In the regular monthly meeting, there was a lengthy public comment period. Before that began, BOE President Pierce spoke about how there were nationwide issues which were at the forefront, and those issues were putting a lot of pressure on school boards across the nation.

About half a dozen people spoke and each were each given three minutes, though some went over that alloted amount of time.

The first person who spoke was a man who said he heard a rumor that Alfred-Almond Was not going to tell the parents if the child was going to identify as a different gender. School Board President Earl Pierce explained that there was no state rule/regulation about having to contact a parent on this issue.

The second speaker identified herself as the wife of the first person that spoke. She quoted a state education website which talks about the children’s process of coming out. This was something which she seemed to object to.

Alfred-Almond School Board member Gary Acker said if you go through the teachers first with a problem/issue, usually it can be resolved. He stressed that parents and teachers were on the same team, and Acker advised the parents present to avoid the “us-them” mentality. He explained that if that is done, “communication between parents and teachers will improve.”

The third speaker spoke briefly and gave his support to the school board and the school district, saying that he was glad the board is concerned with all students.

The fourth person that spoke voiced concerns about Alfred-Almond Board of Ed policies coming down from the New York State Education Dept, regarding “girls and boys,” and he asked the board if they were going to stand up to the state. Alfred-Almond School Board President Earl Pierce answered that “we are going to follow state law,” and when pressed on that, Pierce said “We will comply when we are required to do so.”

The fifth person who spoke, identified himself as a resident and parent with concerns about the policy
concerning the bathroom law. He stated that he would not want biological male in the bathroom with his daughter, and he said that 99 percent of the parents in the Alfred-Almond School District felt the same.
Pierce responded that ” 99 percent isn’t what encompasses this district,” apparently meaning that the majority of parents were not in agreement with that speaker. The fifth speaker then walked away, saying “you are not there for my children.”

At that point, public comment was closed.

School board member Jason Burdick then stated he wanted to read a prepared statement. BOE President Pierce responded “no,” to that request. School board member John D’Angelo made a motion to allow Burdick to read his statement, school board member Kuhn seconded that motion, and then Burdick read his prepared statement (see below).

Then, School Board President Pierce closed the public comment, and the board then went into routine discussions.

“Over the last several weeks, several issues that I have thought about for quite some time have come to a head. I find myself having conversations on almost a daily basis with parents who express the same concerns to me. It seems to many the NYS education department has an agenda to normalize strange behavior, at the expense of the safety of many students. Many of you may not know that one of the reasons that I ran for school board was because my son was using the men’s room in his junior year, when he was walked in on by a female student who sat down in the stall next to him. This made him very uncomfortable, and he left the bathroom as quickly as possible. At the time, I happened to be have a conversation with Mr. Pierce about my concern. Mr. Pierce informed me that the school is not allowed to tell students which bathroom to use because that would constitute discrimination. It was also my understanding that the student who was using the men’s room had already been provided with special accomodations by the school, under threat of a lawsuit from the family if they didn’t. When special accomodations have been provided, I do not understand how it constitutes discrimination to have the student use the facility that they demanded. How many fathers of daughters here today are perfectly fine with your daughter being walked in on by a male when they are in the locker room getting changed for swimming or gym class? If you are okay with this, I would suggest that you are a bad parent. Most of us remember what happened in Louden County, VA a couple years ago, and aren’t interested in seeing that again.

At our last board meeting, a parent asked the question of who is allowed to use the mens and ladies locker rooms and bathrooms. It was interesting that only a few days later, on June 12, the NYS department of education released their updated transgender guidance. I read all of it. This “guidance” is over 50 pages of the education department explaining terminology and giving examples of how schools are to make trans kids feel safe and supported. Some of the pages talked about how the school should help kids transition to the opposite sex and hide it from the parents’ knowledge if the student didn’t want the parents to know. I couldn’t find a single sentence in these 50 pages that talked about the safety of the rest of the student body when kids choose to use the wrong locker room or bathroom than what their biological sex is. If public education is a partnership between parents and teachers to educate the kids, then why would NYSED encourage schools to hide information from parents about their children, and why is NYSED not at all concerned about the possibility of an incident happening here like what happened in Louden County VA? And why is there so much focus on sexualality in the classroom? Why is NYSED encouraging schools to read books to children about the gay or trans lifestyle? The Harvey Milk book that the parents are upset about was read to 11 year olds. Most 11 year olds have not even experienced puberty yet. Most teachers want to teach kids the subjects that will prepare them to someday get a job and become productive citizens, subjects such as how to read and write, do arithmetic in your head on the fly, a skill that is very necessary in my line of work. We have a large group of elementary students right now that are struggling to read and communicate, due to the years of covid “guidance” that proved to be completely worthless in preventing covid. Instead of reading stories about Harvey Milk to these kids, I would suggest that we shift our focus on providing many of these kids the help they need just to read proficiently. It is my understanding that the school does not have enough time or manpower to provide reading help to many of these kids. Only the kids who struggle the most are provided help, while others are falling through the cracks. The group of kids who experienced covid in kindergarten and first grade are really struggling, and we need to focus on getting them caught up before they reach middle and high school. If NYSED was as concerned about this problem as much as they are concerned about whether your kid is gay, trans, or identifies as a cat, then they would provide some assistance to schools for these struggling kids. Perhaps it’s time that we started back at square1, and tossed sex education out of the schools altogether. Many parents believe that it is their job, not the school’s, to teach their kids about the birds and the bees. Furthermore, with the internet at the fingertips of most kids who end up with a cell phone by the age of 12, I just don’t see the need for schools to continue participating in the sexualization of children by reading books like these and putting so much attention on strange behavior. If a child is curious about something and didn’t get an answer from mom or dad, it is very likely that they have found the answer on the internet. These sexual issues are a sideshow, and are taking way too much attention away from the things that need to be taught in school so that our kids can succeed in life. Currently, 10% of the students in our district are home-schooled. Our student population at AACS has been in decline for years. It isn’t rocket science to ascertain that issues like these are a big part of the reason that parents are choosing to home school. If we continue down this path, we will continue to see our student body shrink, while at the same time our budget keeps going up, and the cost per student to educate is becoming utterly ridiculous. In the interest of the safety of all AACS students, I would like to ask my fellow board members to create a policy that simply states that “biological males will use the men’s room, and biological females will use the ladies room”. This isn’t complicated. It is very simple. Furthermore, I would like to ask the teachers, especially in the elementary school, to stop reading books to the kids that have anything in them that is of a sexual nature. These elementary years are the years of childhood innocence, and anyone who wants to pervert that should feel ashamed. We can do better, and I want to thank the parents who came here and had the courage to speak out about the things going on in this school.

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