Dominick Agron, husband of newly appointed school board director Christine Agron, spoke before the board for 13 minutes at its Oct. 21 meeting.
His talk ranged widely, taking in his upbringing in an immigrant family, the hard work he put in to get into college, his advancement in leadership positions, most recently as vice president of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. He is now retired.
Within one hour of his wife being sworn in, he said, the attacks began. He said the Pike County Courier has been an echo chamber for the “hateful minority.” So, he said, he would nip the smear campaign in the bud by addressing any concerns the board might have.
He called posts in a community Facebook group blatant lies, and asked people to ignore the posts or report them to Facebook. “It shows the hatred these bullies harbor,” he said.
He went on to assure the board that since leaving Regeneron, he has not earned money from its stock, and has received no compensation from any pharmaceutical company or funds from any special interests. He said the board was welcome to review his financial holdings. School board president Jack Fisher said that would not be necessary.
Agron complained about the Student Safety First candidates challenging some of the incumbents. He said their supporters trespassed on his property while putting up campaign signs and taking photographs.
He said that, unknown to the board, he is starting a new sports club funded entirely by the community, not taxpayer dollars. He said he donated more than $6,800 worth of hand sanitizer when sanitizer was hard to find. He challenged the “other group” to make their own contribution to the community.
In expressing support for parent choice with regard to face masks in school, he cited a study that was ultimately retracted for political reasons. He said he received four emails within two minutes from an officer of the court. Agron said he didn’t know why he would be expected to respond when he was sent “an onslaught of harassing insults.”
He said members of the “suppression groups” call him a “wingnut” and “Q-Agron” and “radical right-wing extremist.” He said he believes in freewill, and that parents, not the state, should decide what is right for their children.
He said he used to be a quiet person, but now, “I will no longer be quiet.”
‘Our slate has consistently condemned bullying and harassment’
Student Safety First candidate Meg Rosenfeld disputed some of Agron’s claims.
“Our slate has consistently condemned bullying and harassment,” she told the Courier later. “When our supporters went to the Agron home to take a photo of themselves on the Agrons’ driveway and to place a sign in the neighboring property, we made a public statement and emailed our supporters directly to make it clear that we do not approve of pestering people at their homes. Recognizing that the Agrons must still be very upset about this, we personally offered our apologies to Mrs. Agron after the meeting.”
She said Student Safety First candidates have been “the victims of property damage, unrelenting personal attacks, and cyber bullying by supporters of our opposition.”
“While we recognize that candidates can not control the behavior of their supporters, it is their duty as leaders to recognize and address behaviors that do not reflect their campaign’s values,” she said. “We have personally and publicly reminded everyone repeatedly to be fair and civil.”
She went on to say, “If the opposition would debate us, perhaps supporters on both sides would feel less obligated to fight online.”
Others at the meeting wanted to talk about the mask mandate, which was enforced last week by a federal court injunction.
School police officers enforced the mandate at the meeting, passing out masks at the door and barring entry to those who refused to put them on. Of 30 people allowed inside, about a third let their noses peep out from under their masks. One man said as he walked in, “So now I have to put this rag on.”
Fisher kept saying that the board could talk about the matter after the hearing in federal court on Oct. 28. Ashley Zimmerman, the board’s solicitor, stressed that because the board was being sued, it could not entertain comments or questions on the subject.
Karen Cone, whose granddaughter attends DV, told the board they basically had no plan for keeping kids safe from Covid-19. She said a plan would let the community know what the board is actually doing.
Zimmerman said, for the umpteenth time, that the board would not discuss any of the mandates.
Fisher said, “Thank you, Karen,” and dismissed her.
Zimmerman said there was nothing more to say.