Cumberland Times-News

April 17, 2013

Opinion on school safety has nothing to do with writer’s job

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— Commissioner Valentine, in your response to my letter of April 12 to the Times-News, you state that you are shocked at my “willingness to distort the facts,” and then proceed to misrepresent what I wrote. I did not state that I was shocked that the commissioners hadn’t accepted the BOE’s school safety plan. I was shocked by comments that you and the other commissioners made.

In accusing me of distorting, you do so yourself.

The comments made by the commissioners when the BOE submitted its budget questioned the need for the school system to be involved in school safety, raised doubt about the commissioners’ willingness to provide funding for such, and demonstrated a grave misunderstanding about the role of the school system in providing a safe learning environment for its students.

To be clear, I don’t work for MABE (Maryland Association of Boards of Education) and have no reason or interest in explaining their opposition to the bill you mention. I will say that my understanding of that bill is that it would have required Thornton Bridge to Excellence funding — money desperately needed for instruction — to be redirected to paying for school safety. Also to be clear, the fact that the bill died isn’t a justification for not providing the money that the BOE requested and is an attempt to shift responsibility.

I never brought into doubt Commissioner (Michael) McKay’s love for his children and have no doubt that he cares deeply for their safety. I didn’t mention my employer in the letter because my opinion on school safety has nothing to do with my job. It has to do with whether or not I feel my son is safe. I find it offensive that you feel that my concern for my son is motivated by anything other than my love and concern for him and the other students in our schools.

I’m glad to know that there is a plan being developed and that there is a contingency fund in place. I’d be curious to know if that contingency is adequate in the eyes of our BOE.

Finally, I’m troubled by the fact that you feel like the opinion of constituents like me is of no help. That is perhaps the most troubling issue of them all.

Evan E. West

Cumberland