Anyone who attended the Elmont Board of Education re-organization meeting, held on Tuesday evening, July 3 at the Elmont Road School, may have been troubled by some of the things that were said by board members as well as members of the audience.

While, as a society, we may feel we are now above such things as sexism, there, at the Elmont board meeting, came proof that maybe we still have some strides to make.

From a member of the board as well as some members of the audience there came a suggestion that board vice president Elsy Mecklembourg-Guibert, board president Pamela Byer and newly sworn in board member Carol Parker Duncanson can't think for themselves. Those who made this suggestion believe that the three trustees vote only the way fellow board member Aubrey Phillips tells them to vote.

The fact that this suggestion, which is an insult to women, was made in a public forum was unfortunate and that it was made in a building belonging to a public school district is flat out wrong.

To insinuate that Guibert, Byer and Duncanson are nothing but pawns used by Phillips to forward his agenda is an insult to Phillips, but it is even a bigger insult to the those three women and women in general and displays a sexist attitude that belongs in narrow-minded views that our society has risen above.

Women hold some of the most important positions in our society and rightly so. They hold elected positions, positions of leadership and, whether you agree with some of their decisions on the Elmont School Board or not, Guibert, Byer and Duncanson are leaders in the Elmont community and should be treated as such.

Guibert, Byer and Duncanson were all elected to serve the public as were Phillips and other board members Frank Ragona, Lorraine Ferrigno and newly sworn in board member Michael Jaime. The public put these residents on the board because they believed in their individual abilities to improve education in Elmont. But, while they were elected individually to the board, they have to work as a team to accomplish this goal.

In order to work as a team, each member of the board has to respect his or her fellow board members. That clearly did not happen last week. Instead of being portrayed as Phillips' puppets, Guibert, Byer and Duncanson should be thought of, not even just as women, but as community leaders who are capable of doing one of the most important jobs a community can ask of its citizens - setting policies that will affect the education of the community's children.

The Elmont Board would be well served to realize that each of its members, whether it's Phillips, Guibert, Byer, Duncanson, Jaime, Ragona or Ferrigno, are volunteering their time to act in the best interests of the children of Elmont and their parents and guardians. That in itself deserves respect.

 

Republished from Three Village Times