From the Progressive Women of Pelham
June 16, 2022, Pelham, NY: Progressive Women of Pelham, representing over 250 members, supports the work the Pelham Union Free School District’s Board of Education has done toward ensuring the renewal of an employment contract for our Superintendent. Their work was timely, in the ordinary course of business for Superintendent employment, and preserved uninterrupted leadership and stability for our District’s teachers, staff, and students – at a time of ongoing recovery from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.
PWP opposes attempts by a subset of our community to subvert this work. The Board of Education is an elected public body; the democratic process requires that its members be allowed to fulfill the roles for which they were duly elected.
We grow concerned when a minority of the electorate presumes it has the authority to obstruct a publicly elected body’s mandated work in order to achieve political aims. It harms the democratic process and public education more broadly. When tactics such as these escalate, which they did at last night’s meeting, resulting in the police being dispatched, it degrades a process that is meant to be inclusive of everyone. Even more detrimental was the participation of a jeering crowd, who egged on the outbursts of one community member, further disrupting the official business the Board was attempting to carry out.
As a non-party affiliated organization, we stand for protecting democratic norms and support this Board in discharging its duty to ensure that our District has a contract in place for a Superintendent. The Board was obligated to undertake this process, which was carried out transparently. It had every authority to conclude that process with last night’s vote on the renewal of Superintendent Dr. Champ’s contract. Despite the accusation that its vote was not cognizant of the will of voters, it was in fact cognizant of the will of the voters who elected them and whom they continue to serve without interruption until their terms have come to an end.
Attempts to obstruct the work of Pelham’s Board of Education by delaying it until new members are installed is reminiscent of former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) efforts to undermine the work of Congress in the year before an election so that no Supreme Court justices, or even judges, could be approved at the time the seats were vacant. This behavior is undemocratic and offensive to the entire community, which the Board is duty-bound to serve.
As a community we are bound to have diverse views. Advocacy, civil discourse, and even civil disobedience are all legitimate avenues for change. We embrace free expression, so long as that expression does not erode democratic values or harm others’ rights to express their views in turn.