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Letter: Sunshine As President?

At the July 2 board of education meeting, Joel Sunshine, Grady Farnan, Ida McQuair, and new member Donna Brady were the majority of members who voted Mr. Sunshine in as president of the Board of Education. Gail Nedbor-Gross and Dave Huggins voted against. Barrie Dratch was absent.

Just two weeks prior, at a board of education meeting that was attended by more than 150 people, Mr. Sunshine publicly stated he would not give in to the “mob” of people at the meeting who were there to take an active interest in their children’s education. He also stated that he would always vote inline with administration even if it is against his own opinion and feels that “laypersons” should not be making decisions regarding education.

Isn’t the person with the greatest vested interest in our schools a parent, whether they are a layperson or not? Isn’t an elected official in his/her position there to represent the people who voted them in? Why sit on the board of education if you do not plan to question or vote, if necessary, against administration?

It was apparent at the June 18 meeting that Mr. Sunshine was bothered by the people, mostly parents and PTA members, who were there to support Dr. Israel for the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum – something Mr. Sunshine himself did not support. As a member of the PTA for many years I have always advocated to get the members of the PTA to board of education meetings and take an active interest in what goes on in our schools. What did they get from Mr. Sunshine at that meeting? A giant dose of arrogance and disregard for their concern and the use of offensive words – without any regret whatsoever.  This is who four members of the board of education feel should be president and act as the liaison between the public and the board of education. A representative of our district and our children.

The members of the board of education who proudly nominated and elected Mr. Sunshine president did so without calling for or recommending a public apology, nor did Mr. Sunshine feel it was necessary to apologize or even elaborate as to why he has the position he has regarding public participation, he had the chance to reassure the public he is welcoming to the people who attend meetings and support active dialogue. During the public comment section of the July 2 meeting, Zefy Christopolous openly asked Mr. Sunshine to apologize, giving him the opportunity to make some peace – he chose to stay silent. That speaks volumes as to what he and his fellow board of education supporters feel about the public. What is the message being sent out by these four people? If it were an administrator who made such comments the board of education would demand an apology and/or take disciplinary action, instead they chose to be supporters and even send a message to the public that this is what we feel should represent you. Is this a message to our children?

Mr. Sunshine has now had numerous opportunities to apologize to the public, or if it would make it easier on him, simply clarify his comment, instead there has been silence… I get the message, do you?

Suzanne Anderson