Speak Truth To Power – Just Not to School Administrators

Imagine that you are an African-American father whose kid comes home complaining that he’s been bullied at school by white kids for being black. Imagine taking up the issue with the local schoolboard, and having your child forced to use special bathrooms and being barred from classrooms where substitute teachers are present. Meanwhile your kid is continually subjected to racial epithets and in one incident choked. The response? The school and the school board ignores your problem.

So you take the issue up at public meetings, and the school’s superintendent refuses to provide you with answers. But you don’t give up and you attend each public meeting, demanding an answer from the school board.

Finally the school board responds to you in a letter. The letter, written by the school board’s attorney states you are in violation of board policy on “harassment or bullying of employees,” and that you “engaged in uncivil and disruptive conduct in violation of Board policy” at a June 23 Board meeting and a July 7 District Discipline Committee meeting. It threatens legal action link.

Are we in 1950’s Alabama? Nope. Flip the ethinicity from African-American to Caucasian and reverse the colors and you have Donald Soles’ situation in suburban Delaware.

Soles, who is white, first appeared before the Brandywine Board of Education at its December, 2006 meeting and has attended Board meetings regularly ever since. During public comment periods, he has requested an explanation, and has been frustrated by the Board’s refusal to engage him publicly. Superintendent James R. Scanlon has said Soles’ criticisms are unfounded but has refused to comment further, saying it would violate the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Soles has since enrolled both of his children in private school, and has repeatedly called for the ouster of Scanlon. However, in her letter to Soles, Cooper said there is no law or Board policy that addresses a citizen’s request to fire an employee.


This is the same school board that decided to ban the sale of plastic toys that shot marshmallows – and used school funds in a “marshmallow shooter buyback program,” – the first of its kind in the nation.

Marshmallow Shooter - Banned Donald Soles - Courtesy CommunityPub Newspapers.
Banned in Brandywine School District

But bureaucrats know how to maintain power. In the end they wore Soles down.

Soles has since enrolled both of his children in private school, and has repeatedly called for the ouster of Scanlon. However, in her letter to Soles, Cooper said there is no law or Board policy that addresses a citizen’s request to fire an employee.

Now, Soles is wondering if it is time to give up and move on, literally.

“The entire state of Delaware doesn’t seem to care if a child is denied access to classrooms for reporting bullying,” said Soles, who took his fight to the Department of Justice as well. The Attorney General determined the alleged incidents involving Soles’ son may have involved harassment, disorderly conduct and other offenses, but none met “the elements for an assault III charge.”

He plans to put his house on the market.


I can relate. Delaware’s public schools are notoriously bad compared to schools across the border in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland; it’s one of the most common concerns voiced by people who are moving to the state, and I have personally met people who refused the lure of “tax free shopping” in exchange for higher taxes but better schools outside of the state.

As a parent and homeowner myself I’m making plans to leave the area. Like Soles’ kid mine has suffered due to the district’s policy of mainstreaming – whereby they place special needs and disruptive children in the classroom, forcing average kids and teachers to deal with extraordinary behavior. The Kid has also dealt with racist eptithets, but isn’t yet at the age where bullying is more common. I plan to be gone before he’s that old.

Kudos to the CommunityPub paper for covering the story. It has been completely ignored by the News Journal, which tends to ignore local news in favor of printing stories off the news wires. The weekly CommunityPub is the only local paper I read now – and it’s free!

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