Letter – She questions writer’s motives

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

In a letter to the editor (“She backs Dial for School Board,” Oct. 5), Mrs. Stephanie Caggiono claims a Facebook post by School Board candidate Jason Maresh was “misleading and without appropriate content” in her attempt to endorse Renee Dial and justify Dial’s vote to keep sexually explicit and critical race related materials in our schools.

The really important context is Mrs. Caggiono’s withholding that she’s a cousin to IWCS Deputy Superintendent Susan Goetz, according to a Daily Press article on Aug. 14, 1994. Goetz led the effort in 2021 to purchase the “Hampton curriculum.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Mrs. Caggiono’s husband, Dr. John Caggiono, is the deputy director of instruction and curriculum for Hampton schools and the founder of eObservations.com, of which IWCS is also a client. IWCS has paid thousands to Mr. Caggiono over at least the last four years of available check registers. Coincidence? You decide.

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The fact is, Caggiono expresses concerns “regarding future decision-making of the board should these individuals hold the majority vote.” Her concern with the other candidates may have more to do with her husband’s contracts than the sexually explict materials objected to, in my opinion.

Importantly, the “learning resources” three parents asked to have removed last school year were not formalized curriculum. Maresh’s Facebook post stated “sexuality, social justice, raced-based categorizing & stereotyping, anti-police rhetoric and more.” We objected to the unvetted learning resources, how they failed to align with the governor’s Executive Order 1, and how they were provided to all K-12 students without filters.

Caggiono fails to mention that IWCS ultimately removed the TEDed app, opted not to renew the DiscoveryEd subscription this year, and now filters are in place for the eMediaVA APP on K-5 student accounts. This is a direct result of “a few” parents who acted to protect the innocence of our youth.

Caggiono can certainly support Dial or any other candidate, but she should not mislead readers into thinking Dial did anything aside from voting to keep sexually explicit and critical race “learning resources” at our children’s fingertips with taxpayer funds. Dial’s voting record proves she does not support parental rights.

It is curious that Mrs. Caggiono or anyone would oppose the removal of sexually explicit materials to 5-year-olds. I am confident that our hard-working and dedicated teachers are not hired to teach anything that was opposed by Candace Vandebrake, Maresh or myself.


Heidi Swartz