MILTON, Vt. — Disgruntled parents and residents unhappy with the latest proposals for a district-wide equity policy got a chance to share their views with the Milton School Board late last week.
Allison Duquette, a local Milton resident, told the board at the Dec. 15 event that the public is not getting adequate information about the policy.
“We spoke to parents after the meeting who had not read the equity policy beforehand, and it was clear that this forum did nothing to help with their understanding — it didn’t even allow enough time to ask questions,” Duquette said. “The forum ended up being a feedback mechanism for the school.”
The forum she referenced took place earlier in the month when residents were invited to weigh in on the policy. However, no formal discussions or debates took place, raising concerns about censorship and free speech.
According to Duquette, the forum was generally one-sided.
“All in all, this forum was another way for the administration to drown out descent against this equity policy, which doesn’t seem very neutral, even though that is what we were promised,” she said.
She also suggested that there may be conflicts of interest related to the program, EM Strategies, which is headed by a sitting legislator and social justice activist.
“In fact, EM Strategies is owned and operated by a member of the Vermont legislature and self-admitted equity activist,” she said.
State Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, P/D-Chittenden, is the owner and principal consultant of EMStrategies.
Petition against adopting the equity policy gets 1,000-plus signatures
Another resident attending the event, Nichole DeLong, said the board has received a petition with over 1,000 signatures urging the rejection of the equity policy.
“For the reasons stated, we are asking our elected school board trustees to vote to abandon the proposed equity policy at the next board meeting and terminate any further work towards an equity policy,” DeLong said.
DeLong cited U.S. Supreme Court rulings in her argument, saying parents, not school administration officials, are to be the ultimate influencers of education policy.
“The United States Congress enacted statutory laws that state parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children. States, localities and private institutions have the primary responsibility for supporting the parental role,” she said. “We would like to remind the school board trustees, you are elected into your positions to represent the voice of Milton residents, parents and taxpayers. Therefore you work for us and not the superintendent or the administration.”
A BLM flag in the social studies room
Equity proposals aren’t the only social justice-related controversies at the school. Resident Mary Callahan spoke to the board about a BLM flag in one of the classrooms.
“We’ve been working on this for two years now,” Callahan said. “My daughter’s social studies teacher has a giant banner in his room. He refuses to take it down, he refuses to talk about it, he refuses to meet with me regarding it so that I can hear why he wants it up and why he wants to continue this war with parents.”
Callahan said the BLM organization has made controversial statements regarding social justice and policing policies. She added that promoting the group in schools is is inappropriate.
“This is causing people to get shot. This is causing a huge war between our youth in this country and law enforcement, and I just need an answer,” she said.