Editorial – Suffolk School Board must make a decision and move forward

Published 7:16 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

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On Thursday, the Suffolk Public School Board held its regular meeting with the plan to vote on the division’s model policy. Not surprising to most, the board voted to table the topic for its next meeting. In a 5-2 vote, the board decided they needed to have more conversation. 

While it is a complex and important decision, hasn’t there already been enough discussion, hate and division in the conversation? 

Speaker after speaker pleads their case, with each saying the things that align with whichever side of the topic they are on. But it gets repetitive. How many times must we hear the same thing to start every meeting?

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The discussion has ranged from hate-filled words to the opposition to calling board members and the superintendent names. We’ve heard accusations that may or may not be based in fact.  All the while, nothing is getting accomplished. Outbursts from those in attendance have resulted in meetings coming to a screeching halt.

What are we teaching the children we say we are trying to protect? Is it OK to say hurtful things while trying to decide whether the model policy will help or hurt the children? Sure, we are showing those children to stand up for what they believe in, but at what cost?

Let’s not forget the constant bickering between board members and the chairman.

Meanwhile, the division has an uphill battle in improving test scores and graduation rates post-Covid-19.

Not to mention, John F Kennedy Middle School was recently accredited with conditions, again, and the Virginia Department of Education Board recommended the appeal be denied.

The blatant lack of respect and professionalism must be addressed. We understand we will not all agree on things, but we can do so without spewing hate.

The model policy has been on the agenda since July. It is past time to figure this out and move on to figuring out how the schools in this division can continue to thrive in the classroom. For now, it appears we must look forward to more hateful rhetoric during the holiday season. 

We hope that by the time the board meets in December the necessary conversations have been had and a vote for or against ordinance 23/24-14 will take place. It’s time to make a decision and move on.