A member of a Pennsylvania public school board penned a fiery, take-no-prisoners op-ed last week in which he blasted parents and taxpayers who take issue with board policies.
But what seems most upsetting to folks is the sentiment expressed in the title of Richard Robinson's op-ed for the York Dispatch: "With all due respect ... no, I don't work for you."
What else does the op-ed say?
Robinson has been all too aware of the sociopolitical "battleground" that public comment times at school board meetings have become recently — and from his vantage point, the York Suburban School Board is no different.
And he doesn't like it one bit.
"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," he wrote in his piece. "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 then fired back, first at "the men and women who snarl, 'I’m a taxpayer! You work for me!'"
His reply? "No, I don’t work for you. I was elected by people who voted to represent you. It is not the same thing."
He also ripped public comment speakers "who introduce themselves as doctors without mentioning their specialties or credentials and expect their pronouncements to be accepted as unimpeachable" before adding that assisted suicide physician Jack Kevorkian "was a doctor" as well.
Robinson told parents "you sound like a bully" when threatening to move children out of the district over "this masking nonsense" — and he also lowered the boom on "parents who make the pretentious statement phrased as a foregone question, 'Don’t parents always know what is best for their child?' No, we don’t. Nevertheless, if you are offended because I don’t believe parents are infallible, you can always sue or take your child out of school. Your choice."
He then blasted "charlatans who claim health and safety measures are responsible for destroying the mental health of children simply to justify their own social agenda," saying that they're "the most offensive and vile of all" and listening to their "repeated distortions of the facts is nauseating."
In closing, in reference to which opinions will be determined correct in the future, Robinson boasted, "I like my odds."
Observer calls Robinson's piece 'bitter and callous'
Following the op-ed's publication, Nicole McCleary — who ran unsuccessfully last year for the school board — told the Daily Mail she's the charlatan Robinson referred to in his op-ed.
"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," McCleary added to the outlet. "Virtually every one of his bullet points targets a parent who spoke that night."
She added to the Daily Mail that Robinson is "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. 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?"
McCleary added to the outlet that she believes Robinson was hoping that "if I embarrass these people maybe they are not going to show up any more."
The Daily Mail said it tried contacting Robinson by phone and email for his reaction to criticism from McCleary and others but that he didn't respond.
What's more, the president of Parents Defending Education called Robinson's words "appalling," Fox News reported.
"He is just the latest in a string of elected officials who have finally let the mask slip that this whole part of the 'consent of the governed' ... is really just an inconvenient speed bump on their way to forcing their agenda down people's throats," Nicole Neily told "Fox & Friends First" on Monday.
She also noted to the program that school boards overstepping their bounds in this manner have become "extremely common."
"Last year there was the hot mic episode outside of San Francisco where the school board was caught mocking their constituents," Neily added. "They all resigned en masse, and even just last week, the Democratic Party of Michigan had a social media post that they had to take down." She said the post claimed the purpose of public education is not to teach what parents want their kids taught, but what society needs them to know.
"People are listening, they are watching, and they're indignant about how their concerns are being dismissed, treated, mocked," Neily added. "We see over and over again school boards that are now restricting public comment because turns out they don't like being criticized for their decisions that they have made unilaterally."