The Suffolk County News asked the community in online forums to submit questions for the candidates and spent a week collecting and compiling them.
The candidates were then emailed the questions and given a week to respond.
What endorsements have you received from organizations, elected officials, or other community leaders?
NF: I am honored to have received the endorsement of multiple law enforcement agencies, including SCPBA, NYPD-DEA, SDA, OBC-PBA, CSEA Local 870 Connetquot CSD 8769, St. Joseph’s CYO, Connetquot FOC, Moms for Liberty, SOS, LI BOE Patriot Takeover and Unmask the Kids-NY.
SMITH: It’s been an honor to have my former teachers, and all the educators of the Connetquot Teacher’s Association, vest their trust in me with their endorsement. I’ve also been endorsed by the National Association of Social Workers, which as a social worker dedicated to service, is also extremely meaningful to me. Additionally, I received the backing of Run for Something, which advocates for young people to bring their perspectives to local government.
What do you find problematic or lacking in the current Board of Education’s performance in serving the community? How will electing you to the Board specifically address that deficit?
(For incumbents: what have you accomplished in your tenure as a trustee that you feel has had great impact on the community?)
NF: I have been a big advocate of transparency within our district. I truly feel we cannot operate effectively and do our absolute best for the children we serve without having clear, honest conversations. I believe the board should periodically participate in board retreats.
In order to be fully transparent, as an incumbent I have authorized the disclosure of the least-redacted communications that are not subject to mandatory concealment under state and federal laws. I have also urged fellow trustees and administration to be transparent in their communications with the community.
SMITH: I believe in a few areas the current Board of Education, but in particular, my opponent has had deficits in properly serving our Connetquot children and community.
Firstly, we are in a mental health crisis, and I do not believe my opponent has given this crisis the prioritization it deserves. She is more focused on political issues than finding real solutions to the crisis of depression, anxiety, and suicide, which the pandemic has only worsened among Connetquot kids. From being a social worker, to caring for my little sister, to struggling myself, I have an intimate understanding of what this mental health crisis is like, and I will not rest until I know Connetquot is doing everything it can to address it. Right off the bat, I’d like to see wellness check-ins implemented in all of our schools.
Secondly, I believe that my opponent has fostered a culture of bullying, harassment, and attacks, both at and beyond Board of Education meetings, especially in closed Facebook groups that purport to represent the community. As a Board Trustee, I would do everything I can to unify, not divide, our community. I’d listen to all stakeholders, not just those that align with my personal and political beliefs, and I’d foster a collaborative and professional environment both within and outside the Board of Education.
I do not think, unlike my opponent, that it is the place of a Board of Education to aggressively second-guess educators, to influence hiring based on personal and political biases, or to do anything else that undermines the functioning of Connetquot’s schools. If I’m elected, these political games will stop.
Please define, in your own words, what Critical Race Theory (CRT) is.
Please explain what you believe its role, if any, is appropriate the K-12 curriculum of your school district. If you do not believe it has a role in the K-12 curriculum, please explain why.
NF: Critical Race Theory is a complex college-level curriculum that is usually taught in law school or a postgraduate university setting. Various aspects of CRT have been criticized by legal scholars and jurists across
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