Politics Trump Qualifications in Selection of BOE Chair

Newsletter Volume 1 • Number 25

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The selection of the next chair of the Greenwich Board of Education (BOE) was as good as sealed when First Selectman Fred Camillo said on a radio show that if the decision comes to him, he would choose his fellow Republican Joe Kelly. Despite the clearly more qualified Democratic candidate, Christina Downey, Camillo said he would stand by his party and elect Joe Kelly because he’s a “terrific guy” who’s “very well known in Town.”

Normally, the chair of the Board of Education is elected by the members of the BOE, but in this case, they twice deadlocked in a tie. Once Camillo’s intentions were known, the Democratic BOE members cast their votes for Joe Kelly. Downey will serve as vice-chair. 

Kelly is already under pressure by extremist groups closely affiliated with the Greenwich Republican Party seeking to ban books and interfere in educational curriculums. Just a few days ago, on December 16, one of those groups, the Greenwich Patriots, wrote in their daily e-mail: “We would like to extend special thanks to Joe, who has assured us that he is working on the issue we highlighted last week regarding the critical race theory-based homework given in high school sociology. Parents are really grateful to hear that this issue will be addressed, thank you Joe!”

Will Kelly be able to withstand such pressure from his own party? 

Local elections have consequences. Democrats want to keep these national culture wars – most of which are manufactured specifically to inflame the Republican base – out of our schools, and let our great teachers do their jobs. Attend a meeting of the BOE to show your support for our public schools. Click here to see their meetings schedule.

For further reading:

David Rafferty of the Greenwich Time writes, “Kelly paid his dues by running a doomed state representative campaign, and was rewarded by the Republican Town Committee with a consolation prize BOE slot in a can’t lose election….He [Camillo] sent a clear message to Republican BOE members that they didn’t have to do anything, no compromise, no negotiation, just sit on your hands, vote party line and I will make the decision for you.”

Help the Western Middle School field remediation project proceed

The next step to remediate soil contamination of athletic fields at Western Middle School (WMS) is a public hearing, scheduled for January 11 at 6:00 p.m. at WMS. The Board of Education encourages you to directly email the CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) your comments regarding the planned action to cap the field and why this project is important to our community. It is critical to show there is strong support to get this field open and operational again for our students. CT DEEP’s Remediation Project Manager Jeffrey Wilcox is expecting your email at jeff.wilcox@ct.gov.

We strongly encourage you to attend the public hearing, either in person or virtually, on Wednesday, January 11 with both CT DEEP and CT EPA to share your thoughts and ask questions. Bookmark and print the updated fact sheet so you can have all of the details at your fingertips.

The Greenwich Democratic Town Committee wishes you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season! Thank youfor all you do to make our Town an inclusive and forward thinking community. We look forward to engaging with you in the New Year. 

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