Silenced by School Board

Published 6:23 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

To the Isle of Wight County School Board: Critical Race Theory and its divisive tenets are woven throughout our curriculum, yet you deny.

This body has worked consistently to silence the free speech of parents and citizens. We have watched as you have voted to limit speaking times to “1” minute. We have watched as you have voted to rearrange the Request to Speak portion of the agenda in order that uncomfortable topics brought before the board come at the end of the meeting. These actions were taken to quell public input and to silence dissenting opinion and conservative voices. All of this, I decry.

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Last week, I attended a Town Hall meeting cosponsored by School Board members John Collick and Michael Vines at Windsor Elementary School. The unelected Mr. Vines and his co-conspirators, the NAACP, orchestrated quite a show.

The Rev. Willie Williams was the first to speak. He accused Mr. Collick of being a white supremacist, as in the past Mr. Collick has referred to his conservative values. Rev. Williams finds conservative values offensive and links conservatism with white supremacy.

Following Rev. Williams, several speakers later, a young man, Mr. Brandon Randleman, approached the podium. Mr. Randleman acknowledged having graduated from Windsor High, but no longer living in the county. He continued in the denial of CRT, the lie that it is only taught in graduate-level college courses, then proceeded to rail against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s parent tipline, which exists for parents to report divisive teaching related to all things CRT — diversity, equity and inclusion.

Do you know what necessitates the tipline? The continued denial by the Virginia Department of Education and even IWCS of the existence of this divisive ideology in our curriculum.

Following Mr. Randleman’s soliloquy, I approached the mic. I planned to ask a question about ESS and why substitute teachers are being trained in inherently divisive CRT principles but was immediately challenged by Mr. Vines. He stated that the evening was solely for hearing those from the Carrsville and Windsor districts.

Mr. Vines had me escorted from the building. My speech has been denied at every turn. I have as much a right to speak, frankly, more of a right to speak, than Mr. Randleman, as I am a taxpaying citizen/resident of this county.

Laura Fletcher