Letter: VPS school board meeting has technical issues

Vancouver resident Sally Snyder shares her recent experience while attending a Vancouver Public Schools board meeting

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com 

Sally Snyder
Sally Snyder

On Tuesday, July 13, I attended my first Vancouver Public Schools board meeting. The reason I did this was to advocate for the kids. I wanted to share my facts with the board regarding the vaccine clinic my high school hid from parents. I tried going through the proper channels. First, emailing teachers, my school principal and even the school board. I received a lot of excuses and it didn’t feel like I was being heard, so I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and attend my very first school board meeting.

I spent a lot of time researching the school district website. I studied the board meeting check-in process, learned how much time you are allowed to speak and watched past board meetings. I felt confident I was completely prepared. But when the other moms and I arrived, it was not quite what we expected. 

After walking inside, we were greeted by not one, not two, but four security officers! Wow, in all the years we have volunteered in our kids’ classrooms, we have hardly seen one officer, never four. One of us signed in to speak and we found a seat. As the room filled up with about 50 people, we quickly noticed it didn’t feel very welcoming in the big, quiet, boardroom. Board members sat behind a large row of fancy tables and the board president made an announcement that they would take citizen comments first. 

There were many hot button topics. Parents asked how long are our children going to remain behind a mask? Will the school board directed plan for a possible program to have PCR testing inside schools require all teachers and all kids to have mandatory testing? It was said kids 4 years old and up could administer it themselves. Will there be segregation of vaccinated and unvaccinated children? Equity, inclusion, racism, white supremacy, critical race theory all received citizen comment. What will the curriculum be for the school board’s newly passed Resolution #869? The school board resolution states there is systemic racism in all of the Vancouver Public Schools. What anti-racism will the kids be taught? Will other academic subjects suffer? One dad spoke of the low Washington state testing results posted in 2019 (the last published). Another stated she was an activist for many years, and one parent suggested Town Hall style gatherings, not just listening sessions.

Various other important questions were asked. As one IT person stated, how can kids be accessing pornography through their school provided device? Other questions arose after the meeting.  It became apparent that there were problems with the video of the meeting that was being recorded for Zoom viewers and for the record of the meeting to later be posted for public viewing. How is it possible to have no audio for the first five speakers at the meeting? And then no visual of any parents/citizens who spoke for an hour and a half at the podium and shared personal stories? I provided visual aids around the vaccine clinic that were hidden from parents. The school e-mailed information out only to students and staff telling kids if they had questions to message them on Instagram or contact the Clark County Public Health Department. This kind of activism is not curriculum. However, it was used that way as students could receive credit for missed work by watching the school produced vaccine webinar promoted weeks before the vaccine clinic.

Both May and June school board meetings had live-streaming of each speaker at the podium, so why not this time? After the meeting some were advised by the district that due to summer vacations they did not have staffing to operate the camera, which meant speakers at the podium couldn’t be seen by those on Zoom. 

In the end after all these technical blunders, the district advised that YouTube removed the entire school board meeting off the internet. Citing some of the public comments had violated its community guidelines regarding “medical misinformation.” VPS edited out all of the hour and a half of public comments, even those without medical misinformation, and reposted just the very end of the school board meeting. I hope the technical issues are resolved before the next VPS school board meeting on August 10. Some parents can’t get off work in time to make a 5:30 p.m. school board meeting and they depend on the Zoom technology. Maybe the district could publish this school board meeting on a platform where it can be seen and heard in its entirety? Many citizen comments didn’t have anything to do with medical misinformation, so why were those removed? 

While the school board did get to see my presentation with the audio and visuals, it was very frustrating for those parents and citizens who were Zooming, to be in the dark. The district’s own mission statement starts with “In partnership with home.” From my lens, that’s not happening, especially at a public school board meeting, where parents and community members were not allowed to be seen or heard, and in the end completely silenced. Where is the equality in this?

A very disappointed parent, again.

Sally Snyder
Vancouver

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Cara
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Cara
2 months ago

Aw, welcome. I’ve been to at least 5 board meetings. I’ve asked to have a board work session on my area of concern which is special education. That request was denied. I’ve asked to have dialog with the board. Again denied. See my son was abused by vps staff and all are still employed after I educated the board, administration and police. I helped get two of the news board members elected. I have seen zero change. So I understand. I highly recommend you vote for Katherine for thr next board member. She spoke truth prior to running for election.

Cara
Guest
Cara
2 months ago
Reply to  Cara

And yes at the one I spoke at security was there in my opinion for me. I have zero intention of doing anything but speaking truth to create change. It was offensive to see. I also have been blocked from fb and Twitter by vps which is a violation of the law. I’ve asked numerous times to have this corrected. They have not done a thing.

Gloria
Guest
Gloria
2 months ago
Reply to  Cara

We are in for the fight of a Century right now and must never give up. The lack of transparency is absolutely NOT Acceptable! We must instigate a WAVE OF VOTES for NEW board members and people who will WORK with all the fair minded parents of VPS! We MUST be heard.

Megan Gabriel
Guest
Megan Gabriel
2 months ago
Reply to  Cara

Hi Cara,
I am so sorry this happened to you and you have been treated so poorly by the district. Both of my children have 504 plans that were ignored all year by the district. It was a daily fight to keep my oldest alive and the current board knew this. I have been struggling to have her needs met, and deal with abuse from current boards members towards her all year. I promise to make changes in these areas if elected to the board.

Valerie A
Guest
Valerie A
2 months ago

There’s something rotten in VPS… and I know what it is. And so do a growing number of parents and citizens. The school board is backed by corrupt unions and they have no intention of listening to or representing parents, students, or the the tax payers. It’s time for citizen representation. Vote for Megan Gabriel and Michelle Bellkot. NOTHING WILL CHANGE unless WE VOTE our change!

Gloria
Guest
Gloria
2 months ago
Reply to  Valerie A

THANK YOU Valerie A ! VOTE for change. It is the only way. Spread that word.

Monty
Guest
Monty
2 months ago
Reply to  Valerie A

The Schoo; Unions are the main source of all corruption in our schools! Take Unions out of all public sector jobs! Time to pull our students out until we can be assured they will receive an education and not indoctrination!!

Rubicon
Guest
Rubicon
1 month ago
Reply to  Monty

Actually, it’s more complicated: it’s the administrators, especially at the district level who are heavily politicized. In turn the union “officials” walk side-by-side with whatever the administrators say.

Megan Gabriel
Guest
Megan Gabriel
2 months ago
Reply to  Valerie A

Thank you for all your support Valerie! Michelle and I have been tirelessly working working all year standing up to our current school board. We will continue to do so for all students in our district. Vote for change! Vote Gabriel and Belkot for Vancouver school district position 3 & 2

Sheryll
Guest
Sheryll
2 months ago

It’s a scary world today in our U.S.A. when all the government workers want to be’s are just now seeing sex crimes!! Who are these people who will be taking charge,yet have no idea what has been building up for the last 20 years. Are we the next county to end up changing prostitution legal for 13 year olds? Vote for me!!

Lemont Sanford
Guest
Lemont Sanford
2 months ago

Parents need to get actively involved with the school board and teach their kids real values. Don’t let your kids go to school and be taught George Floyd was a hero and BLM is a peaceful pro American organization. Control the narrative as parents for as long as you can.

Jorge Bailey
Guest
2 months ago
Reply to  Lemont Sanford

That’s why I am running for VPS board… Please vote for me… a non union school board union member that cares for the parents, children and community… My name is Jorge Bailey

Gloria
Guest
Gloria
2 months ago
Reply to  Jorge Bailey

Thank you Jorge. I received a Primary Ballot in the mail. I looked at the names and have NO IDEA who is who! So any help I can get from anyone in here…PLEASE let me know ASAP !

Gloria
Guest
Gloria
2 months ago
Reply to  Lemont Sanford

Two wrongs never make a right, and for what I did see, Derek Chauvin was wrong for what he chose to do, but its true Floyd had many unlawful activities, and BLM means nothing because of who financially backs it!

Chris
Guest
Chris
2 months ago

Some of these letters are insane.

If anyone can prove unions are Satan incarnate, I’d like to see it.

Jack Burton
Guest
Jack Burton
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

All of these people believe that the entire community agrees with them and are outraged that the school boards represent all community members and not just the vocal, hyperbole spewing minority. The only thing that works them into a frenzy more than the fact that unions exist is that teachers might be honest about American history. Or public schools might accept LGBTQ+ students. Or perhaps the thought that scientifically accurate human biology might be shared in school. The “Teachers are evil and I’m the one that really cares about about students” campaign platforms don’t seem to be that successful outside of BGSD. Perhaps actually addressing the challenges in public education, rather than making everything a culture war, would be more effective.

Valerie A
Guest
Valerie A
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Burton

You can keep spouting the same trite, tone-deaf talking points. You’re only proving our point. You’re not listening. You’re not learning. You’re not growing. This is a grassroots, non-partisan movement of people who care about their children and their communities. Your last sentence is the only truth you managed to land on; it’s EXACTLY what we are trying to say: we need to address the challenges in public education, rather than making everything a culture war. Spot on! I couldn’t agree more!

Jack Burton
Guest
Jack Burton
2 months ago
Reply to  Valerie A

You can keep spouting the same trite, tone-deaf talking points.”

I agree this is occurring, so there’s TWO things we can agree on. I encourage you to skim all the comments relating to education on Clark County Today and be honest about who is living in an echo chamber and thus doing the repeated spouting. This was a letter about the school board meetings and the “grassroot, nonpartisan movement” adherents are attacking unions, BLM (not sure how that fits into this discussion), and George Floyd.

The communities involved elected the school boards they have. When said school boards attempted to serve the entire community, rather than the vocal minority, they’re labelled traitors and the torches and pitchforks come out. As I mentioned a similar outcry occurred when districts implemented sex education. It is well documented that anyone can opt their children out if they don’t want their children exposed to human biology but the pearl clutching outrage ensued anyway. It happened again when schools had the audacity to recognize the needs of LGBTQ+ students. When districts did their best to follow science and keep students and faculty safe, renewed outrage. The outrage over being honest about American history is just the most recent incarnation, both predictable and disappointing.

I appreciate your passion, but I’m not going to let you paint everyone that disagrees with you as someone that doesn’t care about their children and communities. I, and others like me, that support teachers, science, truth, and ALL students care about our children and our communities as much as the torch and pitchfork crowd.

Finally, I would ask you not to presume that I’m not learning, listening, or growing. I grew up in Eastern Washington in a community that makes North Clark County look like San Francisco. I was dragged to school board meetings there as a child and watched outraged community members rail against evolution, sex education, bilingual education, and books. If I went back there today I would be hearing the same things I hear from the vocal minorities here. I left that community and saw the world, exposed myself to people that thought differently than me, and developed a world view that is uniquely mine. Do you think I come to Clark County Today to affirm beliefs I already have? No, I listen to community members I wouldn’t normally interact with. I learn what the priorities and values of people I may not agree with are. And I grow as the listening and learning make me stronger in my convictions, and occasionally make me rethink some of those convictions.

And the idea that school boards are beholden to teacher unions is laughable. Unions literally have no power over school boards unless the school board approves something that violates contracts. Unions are, however, quite organized and do a good job promoting their preferred candidates. Their preferred candidates are generally the ones that have some semblance of an idea of how public education works, what current best practices are, an understanding of diverse student needs, and no animosity towards teachers. If your entire candidate statement centers around the pandemic or your own two children, no legitimate organization (union or otherwise) could give an endorsement. This by no means indicates that other candidates are “backed by corrupt unions”, whatever that means.

none given
Guest
none given
2 months ago

School board meetings were never offered on Zoom prior to the pandemic. If you wanted the information you had to attend or read the meeting minutes.

None
Guest
None
2 months ago
Reply to  none given

Another good outcome from the pandemic. For a district always promoting 21st century technology, it’s surprising it took a pandemic for this to happen. Meeting minutes back to Feb were just approved in the July meeting. Even after the board meeting when asked when the minutes would be posted they couldn’t give a date. Unacceptable.

Rubicon
Guest
Rubicon
1 month ago

Very understandable, Sally. If the statistics across the US are accurate, many parents are opting for “home-schooled learning.” They say, they don’t want their children subjected to “Critical RaceTheory” teaching K-6 students about their bodies; making them wear masks, and who knows how long before the STATE dictates that ALL school children be vaccinated.
So you are not alone in the many issues you have brought forth.

Jack Burton
Guest
Jack Burton
1 month ago
Reply to  Rubicon

https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Schools/Immunization

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/guides-pubs/downloads/vacc_mandates_chptr13.pdf

Just so you know, schools already require children to get vaccinated and have for a long time. In literally every state. There is a religious and medical exception in Washington, but don’t let that stop anyone from being outraged.

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