Opinion: Vote Them All Out – WCPS Continued Silence on Explicit Books is a Symptom of Larger Issues

EDITOR’S NOTE: According to a social media comment by Board member Darrell Evans, the Board of Education is not receiving our emails, and that is why they didn’t respond. We can only assume that this is also affecting emails from parents and the rest of the community. We’re very disturbed that WCPS email filters are rejecting legitimate emails without any notice to the sender, and will be following up. We have invited Mr. Evans to reply directly to us via social media messenger in the meantime, and any other board members are welcome to also contact us through this method.

HAGERSTOWN, MD News (11/4/2022) – During the Tuesday, November 1 meeting of the Washington County Board of Education, local parent Ashley McCusker read during the citizen comment section of the meeting excerpts from several sexually explicit books in high schools across Washington County. There were a few brief, mixed reactions from the Board of Education during the meeting, with some members of the Board questioning the books’ presence in the schools. However, when contacted by Radio Free Hub City for further comment, none of the seven board members responded to our email.

Be warned – this is probably the most inflammatory, negative article you’ll ever read on our site, because the editor feels so passionately about it. But the good news is, this article is non-partisan, and supports the removal of Board of Education members regardless of political party. Which ones? All of them.

Nevermind the fact that an employee in WCPS could potentially be terminated for sexual harassment by reading one of these books in class or a student could be suspended for passing out copies of these books containing sexually explicit materials, this issue is much deeper than arguments over if certain books or subject matter belong in our school libraries. The issue at the core of what’s wrong with the Washington County Public Schools Board of Education is that the entire Board is refusing to answer questions asked by parents and the community. And the silence on these questions is damning.

Sexual Harassment Policy Excerpt from the WCPS 2023 Substitute Teacher Handbook
Sexual Harassment Policy Excerpt from the WCPS 2023 Substitute Teacher Handbook

Not only is this the first time we’ve ever written an article calling for the removal of elected officials, but this is the first time we’ve also had to censor a video used in a news article due to its explicit nature. Even with the censorship of certain words, this video may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised, and you will probably regret doing a Google search on any of the terms you’re not familiar with.

November 1, 2022 WCPS MD Board of Education Meeting – selected relevant segments

Further investigation reveals that the Board of Education has been intentionally sitting on their hands for a year on this issue, even attempting to claim that their hands are tied due to a Supreme Court decision. As such, what was originally intended to be a neutral article regarding the facts surrounding this issue, is now a call to remove all sitting Board of Education members regardless of their publicly stated views on this issue.

This is in fact the first article we’ve ever published calling for the removal of any elected officials. We’ve reached out to elected officials in the past regarding local issues, and sometimes we don’t receive responses. However, the lack of response from the Board of Education on this topic, after further research, is clearly in line with a pattern of long-term behavior on the entire board’s behalf refusing to take any steps to actually address this issue.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently the lack of response from the Board of Education has been due to an issue with the Board’s email system, which is silently dropping legitimate emails to the Board of Education. It’s unfortunate that it took an article calling for the removal of the entire Board to bring this issue to light.

Radio Free Hub City sent an email on the morning of November 3rd to the Board of Education with several questions regarding the books read during the meeting, such as inquiring how were these books added to our school libraries in the first place, and if they are required reading as part of any classroom curriculum. We also asked if a student would be disciplined for reading electronic copies of these books on the Internet, since that appears to potentially be a violation of the code of conduct. Additionally, we provided the opportunity for Board members to provide additional comment, and clearly included in our email that we had a deadline of close of business day on Friday, November 4. Unfortunately we received no response prior to our deadline, not even a courtesy email to let us know that some of our questions might take more time to research. Therefore, we can only assume that the Board of Education has no desire to keep the community informed or engage whatsoever on this matter, and have adjusted this article accordingly.

Simply put, local residents should vote to remove all currently sitting Board of Education members, because it’s clear the Board of Education is not interested in engaging with the community. If it was just our email which went without response, just our questions, then this opinion article would never have been written. However, when looking at the history of this issue a clear pattern of inaction and silence from the Board of Education emerges.

Unfortunately, we’re not surprised by the Board’s failure to respond to our email after receiving the following from Ashley McCusker, “My question was still never answered about why parents and students are to sign a form stating we will follow the code of conduct and school rules, yet the school is not held to the same standard.” McCusker has many questions regarding the situation, but no answers from the Board. “Alot of unanswered questions, which is the norm.” stated McCusker.

We don’t take this matter lightly. Silence on a topic such as this one, when parents and community members have questions regarding how such books got into our school libraries in the first place, is absolutely unacceptable. Even a courtesy email, such as “I’m sorry, we don’t have all of that information right now but we’ll be happy to follow up, here’s what we can tell you right now” would be better than simply ignoring inquiries on this topic. Even during the Board of Education meeting, the Board danced around McCusker’s questions and never really answered any of them.

To be clear, this is no longer about explicit books. This is about elected officials intentionally refusing to do their jobs. Regardless of your stance on these explicit books, I believe we can all agree that it’s absolutely unacceptable for elected officials not to respond to community concerns, or answer basic questions about how our government, which is paid for with our tax dollars, works.

And why would they want to answer? After all, they knew that 2022 would be an election year. Why risk providing an answer that voters might disagree with, when it’s simply easier to wash your hands of the situation and not address it, or even better yet use the situation as leverage to try and get re-elected? Apparently, it’s more politically convenient to simply let those concerns continue to be problems. Let no good crisis go to waster, after all.

“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems—of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”

–Thomas Sowell

Here at Radio Free Hub City, we want to be a voice of positive news in our community, a fair balanced voice reporting the facts and letting the reader decide. However, when elected officials refuse to engage with the community or help us find those facts, then there is only one choice – remove those elected officials.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the Board of Education has completely failed to respond to basic inquiries regarding this issue. In November 2021, local attorney Adam Greivell was hired by by a group of parents to help address the issue of vulgar and sexually explicit materials in public school libraries. He sent a letter to the Board and the then-superintendent regarding the parents’ concerns, with a call for action requesting that the Board of Education acknowledge that they have the power to review and remove the materials, outline the process to review and remove materials, and make public its decision if it will review the materials of concern. While, after further attempts to communicate, Greivell did receive a response from the WCPS chief legal counsel and associate superintendent of curriculum, one year later and the Board of Education members have still not responded. The thought that the Board of Education feels it’s acceptable to simply not respond to questions they don’t like is absolutely dumbfounding.

“I am disappointed that our elected Board of Education has, to date, utterly abdicated its responsibility to review and weed out materials that have been brought to its attention as being inappropriate and not reflective of this community’s values. It will do no good for the Board to sit back and pretend that it lacks the power to pull inappropriate materials from its shelves, but, rather, to delegate that authority to unelected staff. The School Board is the extension of The People, and The People get to vote for board members that they believe will instill proper values into our children and ultimately the future of our community.” wrote Greivell in his follow-up article.

There are two possibilities why the Board of Education would not respond to multiple questions from the community on this issue, especially questions regarding how the books got in the libraries in the first place, and if they will actually review the books for possible removal.

  • They are unable to respond, because they do not know the answers, and therefore do not know how their own school system works, and have no desire to learn the answers so they can respond. If elected officials do not know how their own organization works and have no desire to learn, then they are not qualified to run that organization.
  • They are unwilling to respond, which would of course be absolutely unacceptable regardless of their justification, because elected officials should always be willing to engage with their constituents. After all, they work for us.

Both reasons for not responding to the community are a clear indication that the Board of Education members need to be removed in their entirety.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently the lack of response from the Board of Education has been due to an issue with the Board’s email system, which is silently dropping legitimate emails to the Board of Education. It’s unfortunate that it took an article calling for the removal of the entire Board to bring this issue to light.

While some have claimed that the best way to address this issue is to re-elect certain candidates, as well as bring in new ones, the problem with this approach is that while incumbents on the board might publicly be for or against the explicit books, those incumbents have not taken any action in over a year, and are intentionally dodging the tough questions, such as how these books got in the schools to begin with.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

–Albert Einstein

Even if the Board of Education is indeed locked in a “4-3” split preventing action from being taken, this does not prevent the three dissenters from answering some of the questions surrounding this topic such as how the books found their way into school libraries in the first place. After all, books don’t simply grow legs and walk into libraries on their own – someone had to pay for these books, and someone had to review the books and approve their placement within the school. With many of the Board of Education members having served multiple terms now, we believe it’s silly to think that re-electing them will somehow get them to solve the problem this time when they can’t even bother to respond to questions about the problem. At this point, the best course of action is to remove all of the Board of Education members who are willfully not even attempting to answer questions on this issue.

Perhaps the reason the community is not getting answers is that this issue extends beyond just a problem of a few sexually explicit books. One of the basic questions being asked of the Board of Education is how these explicit books ended up in high school libraries. This is an extremely straightforward question which should have a very simple answer. The Board of Education requires inventory for every piece of equipment, every piece of instructional material, and every computer and tablet. All school library books are even added to a catalog upon entry into the library. Surely there is some accountability for how these books were obtained in the first place? Were they purchased or donated? Who purchased, donated, or accepted the donation? These are basic questions regarding inventory and finance, questions which should be easily answered.

Has WCPS become so disorganized that they cannot provide simple accounting of where their own inventory comes from, or where their funding is going? This is now far beyond the argument for or against these books being in school libraries, but now becomes a question of just how mismanaged has our Board of Education allowed WCPS to become? What other parts of WCPS are being this poorly managed or accounted for? Do we know what gym equipment is in our schools? Do we know how old this equipment is, and if it needs to be replaced due to safety concerns or simply being out-of-date? What about our science classrooms? I couldn’t help but laugh when Walter White stole all of his meth-making equipment in Breaking Bad, but now I’m not so sure if that could happen or not in our own school system, because apparently our school system is just that terrible at basic record keeping. Otherwise answers to how these books ended up in our schools could be provided almost immediately. This calls into question the ability of the Board of Education members to properly manage anything relating to our school system.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently the lack of response from the Board of Education has been due to an issue with the Board’s email system, which is silently dropping legitimate emails to the Board of Education. It’s unfortunate that it took an article calling for the removal of the entire Board to bring this issue to light.

At this point, after over a year of not acting, responding to, or attempting to actually resolve this issue, or even answer some of the most basic questions being asked, it is clearly time to simply remove all Board of Education members and start over. Elected officials work for us, and at this point it is clear that these elected officials have no desire to actually do the hard work that they are supposed to be doing as Board of Education members. Therefore, the best course of action is to do what any employer does when an employee refuses to work. You fire them. On November 8th, vote out every incumbent Board of Education member. And on Tuesday, November 5, 2024, vote out the rest.

In the meantime, we’re going to continue our series of articles on Homeschooling, and invite parents to consider homeschooling as an alternative to sending your children to a school system currently run by a bunch of do-nothing figureheads. Take control of your children’s’ education, because clearly the entire Board of Education isn’t interested in doing the job they were elected to do.

There are currently seven rotten apples at 10435 Downsville Pike in Hagerstown, and if we don’t remove them all, the rot will continue to spread. Now that we have published this article, should they decide to provide a response to our questions, and the questions the community has been asking for over a year, we will be happy to publish it. But those answers will be met with a high level of scrutiny.

Article by Ken Buckler, President and Managing Editor of Radio Free Hub City. All opinions are his own, and may not reflect those of Radio Free Hub City or its clients.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to reflect information from Darrell Evans regarding their not receiving emails. Apparently the lack of response from the Board of Education has been due to an issue with the Board’s email system, which is silently dropping legitimate emails to the Board of Education. It’s unfortunate that it took an article calling for the removal of the entire Board to bring this issue to light. Since parents and the community have not recieved responses to some of their questions over the past year, we can only assume this email configuration issue has existed for over a year.

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