Dems post video criticizing Board of Education; GOP calls it 'irresponsible'

The latest YouTube video posted Wednesday by the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee titled “What is the Trumbull BOE Afraid of?” is being called “irresponsible” by Trumbull Republicans, who are urging the video to be removed.

The video criticizes the Board of Education’s decision to not hold a public forum on redistricting proposals that will move students from Frenchtown to Middlebrook. The video show scenes of Trumbull schools, including portable classrooms, while  words appear across the screen.

“School Redistricting: A process requiring a dialog in order to reach a consensus and buy-in from all sides,” the text reads. “But the Board of Education is NOT listening!”

The video then goes to footage of an April 8 Board of Education meeting. The footage shows parents addressing the board and Chairman Deborah Herbst cutting some short after they go beyond their two-minute time for public comment.

The April 8 meeting was packed with parents, concerned about both proposals and calling for a forum. The board decided not to schedule a public forum.

“Why won’t the school board listen,” the video asks.

Wednesday evening, Trumbull Republican Chairman Paul S. Lavoie sent out a response to the video, calling it irresponsible for the scenes it shows of Trumbull school campuses.

“With the recent events in Milford, Shelton and Newtown, we need to ensure that our children are protected in a safe school environment,” Lavoie writes. “The video from the Trumbull Democrats shows our school grounds, including portable classrooms and broadcasts potential security issues to the general public. Once this information posted on YouTube and Facebook, there is no control over the information. We cannot afford irresponsible people putting our children at potential risk. When you put the safety of our school children at risk, you’ve gone too far.”

“Tom Kelly having served on the Trumbull Board of Education should realize the seriousness of this video being publicly posted," Lavoie said. “I call and urge upon Tom Kelly, Chairman of the Trumbull DTC to immediately remove the video and to formally apologize to the staff and parents of our school age children for this serious indiscretion.”

Thursday morning, Trumbull Democratic Town Committee Chair Tom Kelly affirmed his party's support for a public forum.

" We think it takes courage for a parent to advocate for their children in a public meeting standing in front of the Board of Education, and they should not be cut-off in such an abrupt fashion,” Kelly said of the board meeting shown in the video.

Kelly dismissed the GOP's  suggestion that the video caused a security concern.

“That's a non-starter and any reasonable person knows that,” Kelly said of the GOP argument. “It's beyond the pale to question someone's commitment to protecting our students and staff When Mr. Herbst doesn't like the issue being discussed, he tries to change the subject.  Let's not forget, he accused us of having disregard for school safety because we called for a Special Election for the Board of Finance.  He uses school security as a political weapon."

Kelly criticized GOP Chair Lavoie for his recent votes on the education budget.

"At the Board of Finance Budget Vote, Republican Town Committee Chairman Paul Lavoie motioned to reduce the Education budget by $900,000," Kelly said. "Part of that reduction was the money for additional support staff so that psychologists could work with more students and for an additional social worker.  Mr. Lavoie also motioned to reduce the Police budget by $200,000 to remove school security guards.  Democrats opposed the reductions to the Education budget, and we stated that the $200,000 for security guards should be in the Board of Education budget.  This is a matter of public record and it's in the minutes.”