The school board of York Suburban School District in Pennsylvania implemented a new mask mandate. School board member Richard Robinson (pictured) had an opinion piece published in which he tore into the parents for their opposition
Furious parents have condemned a school board member for giving them a humiliating ‘publish lashing’ for voicing concerns over a new mask mandate for their children – as Omicron Covid cases start to recede in several states.
Richard Robinson attacked the parents in an op-ed in their local paper, describing them as ‘vile,’ ‘offensive’ and ‘nauseating’ after they had forcefully expressed their views against making students wear masks again after a short period where it was voluntary.
The York Suburban School District board in Pennsylvania voted to make the coverings compulsory – and days later Robinson had an opinion piece published in the York Dispatch in which he tore into the parents for their opposition.
It was titled ‘With All Due Respect, No I Don’t Work For You’ and accused one of the speakers of being a ‘charlatan’ after she voiced concerns about some children’s mental health battles as a result of nearly two years of Covid restrictions.
Robinson, who has served at least six years on the board, also appeared to discredit the right of a medical professional mom to publicly comment because she was a dentist and not a virologist.
His comments come at a time where school boards around the country are under fire from parents who want to take more control of their children’s education and well-being inside the classroom.
Robinson’s piece titled ‘With All Due Respect, No I Don’t Work For You’ accused one of the parents of being a ‘charlatan’ after she voiced concerns about some children’s mental health battles as a result of nearly two years of Covid restrictions
Several parents forcefully expressed their views at a public meeting against a rule making students wear masks again after a short period where it was voluntary
Robinson started his piece by saying ‘school boards are now the new battleground in the fight for America’s future,’ and pointing out that school board meetings have to have a time when parents can speak,
He went on: ‘Some members of my community appear to interpret this part of board meetings as the occasion to tell board members why they have the collective intelligence of a village idiot and how the school district ought to be addressing real problems.
‘When the board does not fall in line with each and every demand, we are accused of ignoring the thoughtful, unbiased, sincere and righteous ultimatums of our community.’
Robinson listed six bullet points in his piece, each starting ‘With all due respect.’ He began by asserting: ‘With all due respect to the men and women who snarl, “I’m a taxpayer! You work for me!” No, I don’t work for you. I was elected by people who voted to represent you. It is not the same thing.’
Referring to dentist Dawn Bentivegna but without naming her, he wrote: ‘With all due respect to the people who introduce themselves as doctors without mentioning their specialties or credentials and expect their pronouncements to be accepted as unimpeachable: when I have a toothache, I don’t go to an oncologist.
‘To me, the logical person to consult about a virus is a virologist. When a person introduces him or herself as a doctor, their education, training and experience matter to me.’
His final dig appeared to be aimed at parent Nicole McCleary who had spoken to the meeting about her continued fears that Covid was creating a mental health crisis among young people.
He did not name her, but said: ‘Finally, with all due respect to the charlatans who claim health and safety measures are responsible for destroying the mental health of children simply to justify their own social agenda, you are the most offensive and vile of all.
‘There are members of this community who tried to draw attention to the warning signs of increasing mental distress among our children long before you ever thought of mental health as a potential cudgel. To listen to your repeated distortions of the facts is nauseating.’
Robinson’s final dig appeared to be aimed at parent Nicole McCleary (pictured) who had spoken to the meeting about her continued fears that Covid was creating a mental health crisis among young people
McCleary, who unsuccessfully ran last year to be a school board member, believed the reason for the comments was to shut down the growing parental opposition
McCleary, 41, angrily told DailyMail.com: ‘This is a school board member giving a public lashing to concerned parents who have every right to express their views. We are parents who can’t get responses on anything from this school board. This is all we have left, and we deal with it.
McCleary, 41, angrily told DailyMail.com: ‘This is a school board member giving a public lashing to concerned parents who have every right to express their views.’
‘He is an elected official who says he does not work for us. And that he knows what’s best for our children.
‘We are parents exercising the right to give public comment about their kids. And this the bitter and callous response from their elected official. I have never heard of an elected official saying, I don’t work for you.
‘If you don’t work for the people you represent, who do you work for?
‘I can’t imagine a parent who would be happy with seeing this. That I don’t work for you, you don’t know what’s best for your kids.’
McCleary, who unsuccessfully ran last year to be a school board member, believed the reason for the comments was to shut down growing parental opposition.
‘Mr Robinson wanted to let us know that not only does he not appreciate what we said, but he doesn’t care. I truly believe the whole purpose of that piece was to give us that public lashing.
‘I’m sure there is the desire, that, hey if I embarrass these people maybe they are not going to show up any more.’
McCleary is a member of a group of parents who allege the board habitually refuses to respond to requests for information. Members have been turning up regularly at board meetings to address members during public sessions, particularly over Covid measures.
Most parents in the informal group are not anti-masks but want them to be voluntary.
‘This piece is the clearest evidence I’ve seen in some time demonstrating that these school boards truly have no regard for taxpayer and parent input,’ said McCleary, who did not want to reveal any family details.
‘In fact they appear bothered by constituents exercising their rights to have their voices heard. He’s saying the quiet part out loud, including that schools know more than parents about what’s best for their kids.
‘I’m the charlatan he references in his 6th bullet point. I care about the impact their decisions have had on my child’s mental health and I exercise my right to remind them of it. Virtually every one of his bullet points targets a parent who spoke that night.’
Robinson has served at least six years on the board and appeared to discredit the right of a medical professional mom to publicly comment because she was a dentist and not a virologist
Parents say they feeling ‘disgusted’ by what Robinson wrote. York Suburban High School is pictured
Father-of-four Brian Sigley, 48, wasn’t at the latest board meeting but is a member of the parents’ group.
‘I am disgusted by what Mr. Robinson wrote,’ he said. ‘I feel as a parent, a taxpayer and a community member and my children as members of the school, he has discounted our thoughts, our beliefs, our concerns.
‘Basically calling people charlatans for talking about mental health issues, it’s hard to believe.’
Sigley, a medical sales representative, said he has now emailed Robinson to explain what Covid ‘has done to my children’ and was awaiting a response.
‘He was trying to shut us down,’ he said. ‘Basically letting us know that no matter how many meetings you come to, no matter what you say, his opinion is already formed, he is not going to change his way of thinking.’
Sigley continued: ‘Saying the parents aren’t always the right ones to make decisions for their children – correct, we don’t always make the right decisions.
‘But we do make what we feel are the best decisions for our family. And I feel like he has discounted that. I have not gotten a reply and I will be surprised if I do.
We’re hurting kids to protect adults. Our kids have taken a back seat for two years. It’s time for selfish adults to put our kids first.
‘I think he put all the community members on notice, no matter which side of the masking debate. Making a comment about people saying they are a doctor and discounting that if they are not a virologist.
‘Whether they are a doctor or not they are a community member and they are free to speak at a public meeting just as he is able to speak at the board meetings.’
DailyMail.com made phone and email attempts to contact Robinson for his response to the parents’ comments. He did not respond.
At the board meeting, McCleary spoke to members and began with the warning: ‘If you thought you were offended before, buckle up.
‘I have stood here before three times pleading with you to stop harming our children because of the selfish and irrational fear of some adults.’
She continued: ‘It doesn’t seem to have stuck but I am pleased to see leading public health experts now agree. We have the US Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others declaring a mental health crisis among our kids.
‘We have very liberal commentators finally coming forward to speak about this.
‘You are missing the big picture right in front of you. Our kids and their overall health. We’re hurting kids to protect adults, Our kids have taken a back seat for two years. It’s time for selfish adults to put our kids first.’
Parent Cortney Hendrickson said: ‘I am baffled to be here listening to another recommendation of face masking.’
Dr. Bentivegna said there were no Covid emergency declarations in Pennsylvania ‘but you have determined there is a crisis’.
She said she saw teachers outside in grocery stores and restaurant without masks and added: ‘But our teachers are only getting Covid from children in this building? That’s absurd.
‘So why don’t we mandate that your teachers must wear masks 24 hours a day to protect them?’