Matthew Contreras had a lot to say at the Nov. 18 Delaware Valley school board meeting before one of his remarks brought it to an abrupt end.
Contreras started out by thanking outgoing board member Rosemary Walsh for her service, even though they “didn’t agree on many many things.” The “radical elements of her party did not embrace her right away,” he said, “so this said something good about you as well.”
He then added, “The time for congratulations is over, and it’s back to governance and hard work.”
He asked about the district’s Covid testing policy. Chris Lordi, director of administrative services, said there is no mandatory testing in the district. School board president Jack Fisher said the board does not plan to start mandatory testing.
Contreras asked about vaccine policy. Lordi said the district does not have a vaccine policy, nor does it plan to hold a vaccine clinic this year.
Superintendent John Bell said DV facilities are available after hours if Pike County wants to hold clinics for senior citizens or other community members. Fisher said that, for the time being, the board is keeping DV facilities open to the public during off-hours.
Contreras asked if that was Fisher’s answer or the board’s answer. Fisher said it was the board’s answer. Contreras asked if he would call a vote. Fisher said he would not.
Board member Dawn Bukaj said the school buildings are available for use by community groups. “The school will not be doing any kind of vaccine clinic,” she said. “I just wanted to make that clear.”
Contreras asked about the district’s policy on antibody testing. After checking with Bell Fisher said the district doesn’t have an antibody testing policy. Contreras then wanted to know if the district accepted antibodies as a way to show immunity.
Lordi said, “The state is not accepting a positive antibody test as of Oct. 1.”
School board solicitor Ashley Zimmerman said this wasn’t a law but guidance.
School board member Felicia Sheehan said she is passionate about the topic of antibody testing. “I would like to explore that,” she said. Fisher said he would add it to the December meeting agenda.
Then Contreras lowered the boom.
“What is the administration doing as far as disciplining teachers for gestapo-like mask enforcement?” he asked.
He referred to “anecdotal accounts” and “a video surfacing” of bad teacher behavior, including “teachers in the hall with signs berating children, inciting other children to join the beratement. I’ve asked this question from the podium several times and I’ve not received a sufficient answer. I’d like to know what we’re doing about that.”
School board member Brian Carso objected. “The tone of the question is offensive,” he said. “It is offensive.”
Fisher said, “None of our teachers act like the gestapo. It brings on too much emotional baggage to talk to a teacher that way and say what they are doing is Nazi-like. None of our teachers, none of our staff, is Nazi-like. If you’d like to rephrase, perhaps we could answer that question in a better way.”
Contreras said he’s not “by any stretch suggesting that the majority of the teachers in our district are performing these acts. However, I have asked from this podium and as other other parents have asked what the board and this administration is doing about these things to the children. I’d like an answer from this board or the administration.”
Fisher tried to respond, but Contreras said he wanted to hear from other board members.
“I’m presiding over this meeting, and I will answer,” Fisher said. “Not one of our staff or our teachers acts in a Nazi-like fashion, and it is offensive for you to say that, and we will not answer that question. So you can move on to your next question.”
Contreras said, “I will not move on to my next question. I would like an answer from the administration on what their...”
Fisher asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting. He got one.
Contreras said if the high school auditorium, with its ample space for social distancing, was the regular school board meeting place, more people would attend.
He suggested upgrading its audio-visual equipment so that members of the public and the school board can hear each other better.
Editor’s note: The original version of this article misspelled the last name of Matthew Contreras. The Courier regrets the error.