BOE’s Clear Disparity in Rule Application

I have been living in Sandy Hook for 17 years. I have three children of various ages, and one of the values is that I try to uphold to my utmost best to be consistent with my parental rules with my children. I think we all can agree that when someone gets treated very differently from someone else when the same behavior has occurred, is unfair and discriminatory.

Within siblings, it can create sibling rivalry that can manifest throughout their lifespan. Within a community, it can create division and separation that can last many generations.

Unfortunately, inconsistency in rules is prevalent within our BOE meetings. Most recently, the rule of “No Clapping” when the audience agrees with the public statement of a community member was implemented. This was considered “disturbing,” “interrupting,” “rude” to the BOE process.

Although I am not in favor of this new rule, it needs to be implemented consistently throughout for all subject matters. This rule was initiated by Deborra Zukowski, Chair of BOE, when the topic of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) was being presented at the BOE. However, [the rule] was completely disregarded when the topic of mask mandates was being presented at the BOE meeting a few weeks later.

Not only is this clear-cut disregard of implementation of the rule set by the Chair herself, but clear discrimination and favoritism by the Chair.

Ms Zukowski quickly went to The Bee to publicly reprimand the community members who in her eyes were being “disrespectful to the process” during the DEI conversation, but did not even attempt to intervene when the community members were “hooting,” “loudly clapping,” and obviously disturbing the BOE process.

If this is not favoritism then I don’t know what is. This is not befitting behavior of Newtown’s BOE Chair. This type of behavior will not bring the community together but only create further divide within the community. This type of behavior does not benefit the children and families living in Newtown, no matter where someone stands on a particular topic.

From the Newtown Government website: Summary of General Responsibilities: “The Board of Education shall provide and maintain good public elementary and secondary schools and shall provide such educational activities as in its judgment will best serve the interests of the Town. The Board of Education shall perform all acts required of them by this Charter or as necessary to carry into effect the powers and duties imposed upon them by law.”

In my humble opinion, this current BOE Chair is not upholding the basic responsibility of the position that she is currently holding.

I attended the Community Conversation about Race on February 7 in which John Voket, editor of The Bee, and Zukowski [participated] along with other community leaders. Both Mr Voket and Ms Zukowski stated that they are committed to representing all constituents of Newtown, and to bringing this community together.

I implore The Bee and the BOE to uphold these commitments!

Sabeena Ali

Sandy Hook

Published 2/17/22, The Newtown Bee