Petition includes false and misleading comments about Board of Ed members’ and candidates’ positions

To the Editor:

As part of the leadership and most veteran members of the Board of Education, we are compelled to set the record straight. False and misleading comments were disseminated in a petition following our meeting on Tuesday night. Let us be clear. We unequivocally support Dr. Addley’s plan to reopen schools safely. Our position has never wavered.

This is inciting division when we need to come together. Truth and civility must return to unify our community in the best interest of children. The vote held during our meeting on Tuesday evening reflected a difference of interpretation from other Board members on procedure and language, and not a vote against reopening of schools. The four of us support the authority given by the Connecticut State Department of Education to the Superintendent to make the decision regarding the reopening of schools. CSDE advised districts that decisions on which models to use to reopen schools rest solely with the Superintendent and does not require a Board vote. The headline for the morning of Sept. 23 should have been “Schools on track to open on Sept. 29.” Anything else lacks an understanding of the complicated and vital work that has occurred.

Darien Board of Education members:

Katie Stein

Duke Dineen

Mike Burke

Deb Ritchie

To the Editor:

In his petition dated Sept. 23, Mr. Greg Grambling is trying to politicize the reopening of schools by using Darien’s children as political pawns in a purposefully misleading petition. This is unacceptable and dangerous.

Given all current information, there is clear support from all nine current members of Darien’s Board of Education to fully reopen schools on Tuesday, September 29. Mike Burke has voiced his support for the Superintendent’s plan at every meeting since the hybrid reopening plan was announced on August 10th. Sara Parent also supports this decision.

Mike Burke was one of five members that voted against agenda item 8a Tuesday night. Those five members did not vote against reopening the schools on September 29. Mike’s vote was based on the clear decision by the Commissioner of Education that the Superintendent has authority regarding reopening models. As such, a vote would fall outside the purview of the Board of Education and was overly prescriptive.

Mr. Grambling also attacks the Burke/Parent campaign in this petition, illustrating his clear political motives. This was a bipartisan vote, representing the most experienced and seasoned members. Why was one particular campaign called out? Is Mr. Grambling representing himself, parents, or a political party? Indeed, we do believe Kids Come First and that credo drives our campaign and our belief in public schools. One of our major messages is that politics needs to stay out of the work of the Board of Education. We only harm our town and children when we allow divisiveness into the boardroom as evidenced by our current situation. We campaign, and post election day, we work together on behalf of Darien.

We live in a small town and should be able to work together towards a common goal of raising healthy and well-educated children.

Reopening the schools is not a political issue and should not be positioned as such. Mr. Grambling should be clear on who he represents, and state facts rather than fan the flames of discontent through misrepresentation in order to further political goals.

If you have further questions, please reach out to us at burkeparentboe@gmail.com.

Mike Burke and Sara Parent