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New Year, New Start: Policy 809, Educational Equity, finally repealed



Our Coalition Repealed the Unconstitutional and Discriminatory Educational Equity Policy within the First Two Weeks of Regaining the School Board


We're pleased to announce that our Board of School Directors convened on Wed. Dec. 20th, 2023, and repealed Policy 809, the notorious Educational Equity policy!! Our directors fulfilled their promise to the voters and effected a momentous turning point for our community.


On its face, Policy 809 forced students and teachers to “value” (i.e., affirm) gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs, even if that offended their private conscience. Any implementation of that requirement would violate First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution as well as the fundamental rights of parents and guardians in the moral and religious upbringing of their own children, which are protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


Policy 809 was a lawsuit waiting to happen if our Board hadn’t got rid of it.


By seeking to normalize educational equity, Policy 809 had set a foundation for discrimination against white students and their families in our School District’s services. The only difference was that our School District Administration held back any enforcement of Policy 809. The dream long held by Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, where racial grudges and victimhood had been let go in favor of friendship and equality under the law, had been turned upside down.


The new session of the Board began on December 7th, where our endorsed candidates, Reba Cortés Hoffman, Dennis Udicious, and Dan Wismer, were sworn-in, along with Democrat School Directors Laurel Ziegler and Caecilia Holt from Kutztown Borough (Region 1).


Then a Policy & Curriculum Committee meeting convened just four days later in December 11th to consider Policy 809 for repeal. Despite a filibuster attempt from Democrat Director Laurel Ziegler, the Committee voted to recommend a full repeal to the full Board at its scheduled meeting on Dec. 18th, 2023.


To comply with existing procedures, the Board was required to have two “readings” of Policy 809 before a final vote to repeal. On December 18th, the first reading to rescind Policy 809 passed by our Board in a 6-to-3 vote. The three school directors elected from Kutztown Borough — Laurel Ziegler, Caecilia Holt, and Mike Hess — voted against it.


Our Board then acted swiftly and called a special meeting for Wednesday, December 20th to get the job done. On December 20th, Policy 809 finally bit the dust and became repealed by a vote of 5-to-2 (with two directors absent). Our candidates fulfilled their campaign promise!


Our Opponents Resort to False Narratives

At both readings for the repeal of Policy 809, the Far Left continued their false narratives.


In the same breath, Leftists accused us of spreading “lies” and “fear” during the 2023 campaign, while at the same time asserting that children in our community were somehow in jeopardy if we didn’t keep Policy 809. During the Board meetings, advocates in favor of Policy 809 tied it to services for the disabled, for poor families, and for students where English is a second language. But our School District has long provided these services, and for many decades, before the advent of Policy 809.


Because of these false narratives, Superintendent Christian Temchatin was forced to send an email to all parents before the Christmas break, clarifying the “removal of the policy in no way erodes our commitment to serving the students of the Kutztown Area School District.”


The Left was using Policy 809 as a wolf in sheep’s clothing to push their corrupt ideology.


Impermissible Burden-Shifting

During these Board meetings to repeal Policy 809, Democrat Director Laurel Ziegler goaded our Coalition’s school directors, trying to shift the burden of proof by demanding specific reasons for repeal.


All this, as if two Municipal election cycles and a documentary produced by KASD Children First PAC were not enough discussion in our community. Fortunately, during the public comment section, PAC members set the record straight by referencing our School District Administration’s 2021 statement where it was openly admitted there were no actual cases of discrimination which prompted the policy.


In other words, Policy 809 was a solution in search of a problem from the outset. Demanding a litany of reasons for its repeal was hypocritical.


Veiled Threats

At both meetings to repeal Policy 809, Ziegler and representatives from KOFEE (Kutztown Organized For Educational Excellence) made veiled threats to our school directors if they voted in favor of repeal. They suggested there would be legal action taken against our School District for the repeal of Policy 809. KOFEE leader Robyn Underwood claimed “our children” and “your customers” are “watching,” a veiled threat where several of our school directors are employed in small businesses.


Despite lecturing us about bullying, the Far Left has no qualms with bullying when it’s something they want.

 

Psychological Projection.

Then came the Rev. Dennis Ritter, a former director whose bid for re-election was defeated on November 7th, 2023. He attended the December 20th Board meeting and, during the public comment section, gave another lengthy speech where he used the words, “lies” and “fear,” too many times to count.


Ritter was emotionally triggered. He blamed our school directors (and by extension, all of us who voted for them) for dividing the community. All this, despite the fact that our voters spoke with a loud voice in 2021 and 2023, unseating incumbent directors who voted for Policy 809 or its predecessor, Policy 832.


Dr. Ritter Gets a Bitter Taste of His Own Medicine.

Ironically, during the December 20th Board meeting, Dr. Ritter found himself on the receiving end of a policy he voted for while a School Director. Earlier in 2023, he voted in favor of reducing public comment from five minutes to three minutes per person.


But now, having lost reelection, he had only three minutes to speak like the rest of us common-folk. He still disregarded the rules and exceeded his allotted three minutes. When Board President, Jason Koch, informed Ritter that his time was up, Ritter snapped, “Be patient,” and kept on talking.


Such elitist behavior was quite a sight to behold.


Reducing Democracy into a Pattern of Inner Experience.

In another monologue during the Board meeting on December 18th, Democrat Director Laurel Ziegler intimated that election results don’t truly represent the community. She said the number of people who voted this past November 7th was a small percentage and called our voters a “small minority,” implying the results don't reflect the will of the people.


With that sort of reasoning — what purpose does an election serve?


Besides suggesting it’s ok to disenfranchise those voters who do participate in elections, Ziegler revealed a significant ignorance over American civics.


The PA Supreme Court explained in Munce v. O’Hara, the will of the people is ascertained by “the majority of those who actively participate in the affairs of state and not the entire body of voters.” The court reasoned, “Apathy is not the equivalent of open opposition.” Therefore, those “who abstain from voting” are “considered as acquiescing in the result declared by a majority of those who exercise the suffrage.”[1]


In other words, the PA Supreme Court presumed that anyone who doesn’t vote has agreed with the outcome of an election. Representative government comes at a price: Either vote or acquiesce by not voting; there’s no third option.


But, regrettably, there’s a greater danger at work here.


Ziegler, Underwood, KOFEE, Ritter, and Leftist Democrats have reduced our democracy into a pattern of inner experience. They self-identify as the “majority” in a School District that is 49% Republican, 1% Libertarian, 36% Democrat, and 14% other/independent.[2] The independents in our District are about evenly split in their voting behavior towards the major party tickets. In the 2020 Presidential Election, the top of the Republican ticket received 55.7% of the popular vote in our School District compared to 42.5% for the Democrat ticket.


For the three school directors elected by Democrats in Kutztown Borough, the 2020 U.S. Census reveals the Borough is 24.4% of the population in our School District. 75.6% of our School District population resides outside of Kutztown Borough.


“Identifying” as the majority is out of touch with reality when the law and voter data reveals otherwise.


Moving Ahead

While repealing Policy 809 was a huge victory, we know the repeal alone does not fix everything. In many ways, it is just the beginning.


On behalf of the KASD Children First PAC and our endorsed candidates, we thank you for your votes, for your trust in us, and for your financial support as we take the necessary steps to place academics over ideologies in the classroom, restoring parents and guardians to their rights in the upbringing of their own children. We are grateful and humbled by those of you who came out to support our school directors during these first eventful weeks in office.


We take seriously the trust you have placed in us and we look forward to the work we will do together in 2024 and beyond!


References

[1] Munce v. O’Hara, 16 A.2d 532, 532-33 (Pa. 1940).

[2] Berks County Board of Elections, Certification Affidavit for the County of Berks (Nov. 1, 2023).

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