Wednesday, July 24, 2024

South Glens Falls: 5 vie for 3 seats on the School Board

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

Five candidates seek three spots on the South Glens Falls school board. The election is Tuesday, May 16.

The Chronicle reached out to candidates through the district.

Christopher Music, Haley Brashears and Nicholas Healy opted to talk.

William Elder and Edward Potter declined to speak with The Chronicle.

“I don’t care for the direction that the school system is headed,” said Christopher Music. “Between lack of accountability for students, the standards are getting watered down, everything is pandering to feelings.”

Mr. Music said he has two young children and lives in the district in Fort Edward. He said he owns businesses, including a gym and excavating company.

He claims teachers are unable to enforce policies, including on cellphones and dress codes.

“Kids are hanging out in the bathroom for 20, 30 minutes at a time. And there’s either not enough aides to kick them out and say, go back to class, or the aides are told not to, and they can’t,” he said.

He said he was certified to substitute teach, “and they told us that straight up in the class. Even though there’s a policy, and it’s been approved by the Board of Education and the administration, you’re not allowed to enforce it.”

Mr. Music has had fierce public back and forth on social media, particularly regarding transgender students.

Commenter Alex Quinn wrote in part, “Chris is participating in genocide against the Trans community.”

Mr. Music said, “They’re a protected class now, but it seems like their rights and their feelings are trumping everybody else’s. And to some degree, I think the board’s hands are tied to a lot of this stuff since it is law, but at the same time, they could be at least showing an effort to try to make other students feel comfortable”

“When you have boys in the girls locker room claiming to be girls. And these girls have no say in it, you can’t even make a complaint against it, the school’s not allowed to tell anybody about it, it’s just absolutely insane to me,” he said.

Mr. Music said he believes he has support from other parents. “If you go through my Facebook page,” he said, “you’ll see why they’re afraid to speak up. Because you get attacked. Every little thing you say, these people are just hounding you, attacking you, or calling you a bigot, transphobic.”

“They don’t know me,” he said. “They can’t stop one second and process what I’m saying. I don’t hate these people. I don’t like what’s got them there. I think they’re all victims. I feel sorry for them.”

Haley Brashears said she’s running because “I really wanted there to be a woman’s voice on the board, because two women are leaving, leaving one remaining woman, and I’m the only woman candidate running. So I really thought it was important to have a woman’s voice, a mother’s voice on the board.”

She said, “With my two young kids just beginning their formal education journey, I think I wanted to find a way to get more involved to make sure they have the best education possible.”

“So that’s really my two motivating factors.”

Ms. Brashears said she’s a native Californian who moved to Gansevoort 14 years ago. She said she’s a credit portfolio manager with TD Bank, and her partner is a GED instructor at South High.

She said safety is a primary focus. “School safety in terms of an active threat, as well as bullying, and in making every kid feel safe at school, for a place to come and feel safe to be who they are.”

Also, “supporting our teachers and trying to give them the resources they need to handle the things that they are dealing with in the post-COVID world, as far as mental health of the students and reacclimating them to being in school life.”

Is there anything she’d change about the district? “Not particularly. I think that there are things that can be implemented to support our teachers and our students going forward. But it’s a process and I think that I just want to listen to the community and educators and help be a part of that process.”

The Chronicle asked Ms. Brashears about Mr. Music’s social media comments. “I have an opinion. But I don’t know if I want it said to the public,” she said.

“I don’t feel that the exclusive opinions that he’s expressed, excluding any students, are acceptable. It‘s not the environment that I want my children to be in and the community’s children to be in.

“I think that we need to make these schools a more inclusive place for all children, no matter their background.”

What does she mean by exclusivity?

“I know that there has been a lot of chatter from him about; he doesn’t agree with the school’s transgender policies.

“But the school is really subject to the state laws. So the school district itself doesn’t have any specific policies for transgender students, they are just respecting New York state law. But I’ve seen his opinion on ‘transgenderism,’ as he says, which I do not agree with, at all.”

Nicholas Healy said he’s running because, “I honestly always just wanted to give back to my community. My focus for the last few years has been raising my son and my daughter.”

Mr. Healy, a 1997 South High graduate, said his children are now in high school.

“My dad was always involved in local politics and things growing up. So it’s something that kind of runs in my blood.

“I don’t have any personal agenda, I think the school has some really wonderful programs going on.

“I’m a school counselor for the better part of the last 20 years over in Granville, and think I would have a lot of experience, hopefully a lot of ideas, to be able to share with the district and with the board to really try to make sure that we have strong programs for the kids.”

Mr. Healy said he wants to support students “from a mental health standpoint,” and “help the kids catch up from what they’ve missed during Covid.”

He said he’s also focused on extra curriculars, “because I feel like that’s something that we’re kind of missing over the last few years, especially since COVID.

“It seems like kids are a little less involved in some school activities at high school or extracurricular. And I think that that’s really important for them to do and experiences for them to have.”

He said he would also like to see “programming at the senior high level for all of our kids, and especially a focus on some of our students who are looking to enter the workforce.”

On school safety, “I know that the school has a decent plan, there are some pretty low cost options that can make some of our buildings and classrooms more secure,” he said.

The Chronicle asked if Mr. Healy had any reaction to Mr. Music’s comments.

“I plan on advocating for all of our students. We want to make sure that when students go to school every day, regardless of their sexual orientation or their race or their ethnicity, or their religion, that they feel respected every day.”

“I’m hoping that as a school district, we are, trying to respect everyone’s opinions as long as people are trying to express those opinions appropriately. I don’t really accept or tolerate any kind of bigotry in any way, shape or form.”

Has Mr. Healy seen bigotry?

“I’ve seen a lot of different posts come through, there are some parents who are fairly upset with some of the comments.

“But I guess I would just say, I stand with all of our student groups. I stand with any of our transgender students as well.

“I’m not going to say anything derogatory about any of the candidates, certainly more about where I stand. But I think we should be really tolerant of all kids. And I think what I’ve seen is it’s certainly more directed towards the LGBTQ community.”

“And I definitely support those kids and them being treated with respect and kindness. And I think it’s important that as a school community, we obviously do as well.”

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