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PWCS, Let’s Go To War

By Greg L | 9 March 2013 | Prince William County | 21 Comments

The Prince William County Schools require that all parents of students at Stonewall Middle School grant to the International Baccalaureate Organization a free, world-wide license to reproduce, for their own commercial purposes, any and all materials produced by those children until seventy years after their death.  A failure to agree to these terms prevents children from participating in the IBO program, which is the only educational program offered at Stonewall Middle School.  If parents will not agree to these extraordinary, burdensome and utterly ridiculous terms, their children will be denied a public education which the Commonwealth of Virginia is required to provide under Article 1, Section 15 of the Constitution of Virginia.

As a result, I am soliciting other parents to participate as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit that will be filed as soon as possible, asking for an injunction preventing the county from enforcing any participation requirements demanded of parents or their children that infringe on their constitutional rights and other relief as the courts may deem appropriate.  In addition, I intend to request that each parent who has been coerced or otherwise defrauded into agreeing to these terms under the threat that their children would be denied a public education be granted relief in the amount of at least $25,000 per student.

Reference: Article 4.2 of General regulations: Middle Years Programme for students and their legal guardians, International Baccalaureate Organization 2006, 2007

The Prince William County School System seems to care a whole lot about money, but quite obviously not a whole lot about the rights and liberties of parents and their children.  They are participating in an illegal scheme intended to generate profits for a foreign company and demanding that children surrender their intellectual property rights as a condition of enjoying constitutionally guaranteed rights.  This is so utterly stupid and outrageous it shouldn’t be hard at all to find a top-notch attorney who will revel in ensuring that the rights of the hundreds of plaintiffs in this suit are properly protected.

Yes, go ahead and sign away your rights under state and federal law, even if you have no idea what this is all about

Let’s resolve this in a way school bureaucrats actually understand, with expensive attorneys and huge court-awarded damages that punish idiots.  That is unless the county or the Commonwealth recognizes just how utterly idiotic this all is and manages to remedy this situation before I manage to get attorneys and plaintiffs lined up and a brief filed.  Let’s see who finishes this race first, shall we?


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  1. Greg L said on 9 Mar 2013 at 8:24 pm:
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    Getting questions on this, so it makes sense to put a FAQ in the comments section.


    Q: Must my children have attended Stonewall Middle School?
    A: No. All that would be required is that you as a parent received a letter from your school demanding you sign the following statement:

    “I acknowledge that I have received, read and understood and accepted the General Regulations and have noted and understood the rules on copyright related to the students’ materials submitted to IB as provided under article 3 (sic) of the General Regulations.”

    Or any language to that effect.

  2. Lovettsville Lady said on 10 Mar 2013 at 12:40 am:
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    The Middle school IB program costs money and it’s completely useless for anything other than indoctrinating your children in liberal, elite, European, philosophies. It’s even more useless than the high school IB program! Can PWCPS explain to parents why they have bought this program and why parents should sign over their children’s work to a program based in Wales?

    If Prince William county is putting this silly program in middle schools, they must have plenty of money to waste!

  3. Milt Johns said on 10 Mar 2013 at 7:29 am:
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    Greg - Did you actually consult an attorney on this? Before you convince people to waste their money on attorney consultations, and also to spin people up, please accept this analysis from an actual attorney.

    The very first clause of the first sentence of Section 4.2 reads “Students retain copyright in all materials submitted for assessment purposes…” In actual legal terms, that means that children aren’t surrendering any intellectual property rights. They retain those rights. What the children grant is a “non-exclusive, charge free, worldwide license” which means that the children can’t charge IB, and IB can use the material anywhere, but the children can grant that same license to any other party. So IB doesn’t exclusively control the material and children can license it to other parties simultaneously. The license to use the material is for “assessment, educational, training and/or promotional purposes relating to the IB Organization’s activities, or to those related activities of which it approves.” What this means is that if your daughter draws a picture as part of an assessment (i.e. an IB test), they can put it in their catalog, or on their web site, as an example of the type of work that is produced in the IB program. This clause does NOT grant them the right to sell your daughter’s picture for profit. This clause also limits their license to materials submitted for assessment purposes (meaning IB tests) and not all material produced by the child while in the IB program.

    Further protecting your daughter’s commercial rights in her intellectual property, Section 4.5 allows a student to withdraw the license under exceptional circumstances. So if your daughter, as part of an IB assessment (meaning test) writes the Great American Novel and submits that to IB, she can withdraw the license for IB to use that novel as part of its assessment, educational, training and/or promotional material. IB never has, nor will they ever have, the right, under this license, to sell that Great American Novel on their own for profit, but nonetheless, your daughter can withdraw the license to that novel so that she can sell her entire rights under her lucrative publishing contract.

    A few other factual corrections - IB isn’t the ONLY educational program at Stonewall Middle School. It is the only specialty program, but students are not required to participate in IB classes, so no child would be denied an education if Stonewall Middle is their base school - they just wouldn’t take the IB classes.

    Further still, IB is a non-profit foundation. Distribution of profit to equity holders destroys an organization’s non-profit status.

    So the bottom line is that your statement that the Prince William County School System is “participating in an illegal scheme intended to generate profits for a foreign company and demanding that children surrender their intellectual property rights as a condition of enjoying constitutionally guaranteed rights,” is factually and legally false.

    I recommend you reconsider this post as it is at least in part, if not in whole, defamatory. And that would be a case a Plaintiff’s attorney would take.

    This post is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney client privilege.

  4. Greg L said on 10 Mar 2013 at 11:50 am:
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    I must have really struck a nerve with our local educrat tyrants in order to cause an attorney to publicly connect his name with such patent nonsense.

    I’m going to be sued for defamation because I criticized the government? How could I possibly be worthy of being blessed with such a tremendous gift! Just run right on down to the courthouse and file that brief.

    Thanks for the blog fodder, Chairman Milt. I really do appreciate it.

  5. Janelle Anderson said on 10 Mar 2013 at 11:56 am:
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    Thank you, Chairman Milt Johns, for your response.

    You point out that in Section 4.5, the IB contract allows for a Stonewall Middle School student to withdraw the copyright license under “special circumstances”.

    Who decides what constitutes “special circumstances”? The student, the school, or the IB program?

  6. Anonymous said on 10 Mar 2013 at 12:48 pm:
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    I have a child in the full IB program at Stonewall Middle. This is not our base school, we are a transfer student for the specialty program. We chose to transfer here to get away from our base middle school. In fact, our elementary school sent almost 70 6th grade transfer students to SMS this year (I believe mostly to get away from their base middle school). That is a very high amount of 5th graders looking to get away from their base middle school. Essentially, these kids come from involved and in touch families who make it a point to be as aware as possible of their options rather than just going with the flow and automatically sending their kids to their neighborhood school. The demographics of SMS and our base middle school are very similar but the staff’s reputation at SMS for being caring and involved sways many families towards giving them a chance. Middle Schools are a tricky situation and even those populated by mostly affluent neighborhoods are still a playground for bullying and general preteen/teen angst related drama.

    I’m sure I probably signed a paper last year giving up our exclusive rights to our ‘intellectual property.’ (This is amusing to me as I am actually an IP paralegal and know exactly what that means.) That being said, I’m sure nothing my child creates will be exploited for their gain and my child’s loss. Furthermore, the thought of going to our base middle school was so abhorrent to me I would have signed basically anything to get a different option. (Mr. Johns, I’m sure you’ll be following this thread. PLEASE help those of us living in the Bennett ES district get rezoned to a different middle school.)

    I did want to point out one thing that may or not be relevant to either side of this situation. The 2012-2013 school year is the first year Stonewall Middle School has represented itself as going completely IB. I believe Mr. Johns may need to look into the fact that SMS represents itself as a completely IB school and even those students who are not enrolled in the ‘full’ IB program are, in fact, IB as well. My child now only gets to receive two exploratory arts classes a year instead of three as the entire school must now take some type of foreign language. Accordingly, those not in the ‘full IB program’ now take an introductory to foreign language class in place of one exploratory arts class to get around the IB requirement of all students being taught a foreign language. Whether these non-full IB parents have to sign the same forms as I, a full IB parent did, I’m not sure. Also, my child takes classes with non-full IB students (science, social studies, PE, music, exploratory arts) and they are all ‘IB’ classes. We really are only separated from the general population in language arts and math and this is because we are in ‘extended higher achieving classes’ in those subjects. There could be non-full IB students in those classes if they scored high enough to merit inclusion. Essentially, my child takes the same classes alongside non-full IB students and every one of those classes tout the IB mindset. We had to do a chorus project regarding the IB learner. The entire first interim period of social studies was spent on the unit, ‘What is an IB Learner.’ I’ve sat in every one of her classes at some time throughout the year and every one of them, from PE to language arts and everything in between integrates the ‘IB concept’ into their curriculum and these classes are comprised of the entire school population (specialty IB and not).

    Accordingly, the following is not wholly correct as the entire population of SMS takes IB classes.

    “…IB isn’t the ONLY educational program at Stonewall Middle School. It is the only specialty program, but students are not required to participate in IB classes, so no child would be denied an education if Stonewall Middle is their base school - they just wouldn’t take the IB classes…”

    Again, I must point out the staff, and especially the administration at SMS, stand out in a positive manner compared to most and you could do a lot worse with your assigned PWCS middle school. Be thankful you have a bus to take you there as I have made a three year commitment to drive my child and pick them up to be able to attend SMS. It is not perfect but it is the best option available to us. I have another child in third grade and I’m praying for rezoning. Our elementary school sends all of our well behaved, high achieving new 6th graders to our zoned neighborhood school and they are chewed up and spit out by the less well behaved, low achieving students from the other feeder elementary schools. In a perfect world, school zoning would be based on academic ability and behavior and our children could continue to grow and flourish and maintain their innocence for as long as possible.

  7. Padre said on 10 Mar 2013 at 1:41 pm:
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    The sky is always falling, isn’t it? Get concerned over real things.

    The IB program is to challenge more capable students. This challenge is even more important when one lives in a neighborhood with mixed demographics.

    Be glad that program is in place and that it has turned SJMS into a magnet school, if you get my drift. (or you could move)

  8. Doug Brown said on 10 Mar 2013 at 1:56 pm:
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    In a less than perfect world, but in a world where Education officials did the job they were being paid for, “the less behaved, lower achieving students” wouldn’t be able to create conditions that chewed up and spit out well behaved , high achieving students.

    Exploring class action lawsuits against negligent and possibly criminally negligent school officials is a valid option for parents of a school system to consider and publically discuss. If non-citizens can seek recourse in our courts to ensure that their children get a decent, safe education in our schools then surely American parents can pursue the same option?

    As an aside, I have been very disappointed with conservative politicians and their financial backers in their failure to explore such an option aggressively. Why can the ACLU and other left leaning, progressive groups run to the legal aid of non-citizens, which I don’t necessarily begrudge them doing, you got “to have a heart,” as Governor Rick Perry said in his Presidential run, but where are all the pseudo-champions of the Middle Class, i.e., FOX, the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove etc., when it comes to defending the children of America’s Middle Class? They want our votes, our Patriotism, our treasure and blood, but our children will just have to make do? Why? They want our votes, period. Oh, and maybe a $15, $20, $25 contribution to stop that evil man, the Anti-Christ in the White House.

  9. Drake said on 10 Mar 2013 at 1:57 pm:
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    Does Parkside that much bullying ? new Administration.

  10. Benton said on 10 Mar 2013 at 2:13 pm:
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    Strike a chord or be called out for spewing more mis information?

  11. Doug Brown said on 10 Mar 2013 at 3:46 pm:
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    I like Chairman Johns citing the authority of his comments resting on his being a lawyer then sarcastically disclaiming any intent of providing legal advice at the conclusion of his comments.

    Typical of our political class, our political leadership these days - contemptuous and dismissive response to public criticism.

    Why not just respond as Chairman with a simple and direct response to Greg’s post?


    I’m an attorney, but I’m not.

    I’m not Chairman, but I am.

  12. Milt Johns said on 10 Mar 2013 at 4:36 pm:
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    Criticizing the government is every citizen’s First Amendment Right. Accusing government officials of committing crimes is not protected by the First Amendment if its not true.

  13. Greg L said on 10 Mar 2013 at 5:47 pm:
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    Are you daft Chairman Milt? Has your nonstop bootlicking of Dr. Walts dulled your mind to the point you actually believe the utter nonsense you’re spewing? I might be able to fathom a reason for trashing whatever reputation you have if only there was some client’s interest at stake, but acting like a complete bufoon for the sole purpose of defending your personal political legitimacy isn’t just terribly destructive to those ends but serves no purpose in furthering the interests of the School Board that you purport to lead.

    Under your leadership the School Board is unlawfully trampling parent’s rights, probably not because there’s an intent to do so but more likely because you are simply incompetent. You have failed to exercise the authority that voters granted you, are incapable of the leadership you claimed you possessed when running for office, and are demonstrably unsuited to performing the duties of that office. I have and will continue to extensively document this until the situation is fully remedied, and expect that all I shall see from you in response are further nonsensical legal ramblings unsupported by citation and “facts” that after cursory examination prove to be untrue.

    That, and offer thinly veiled threats you have no intent of following through on that quite possibly violate Rule 3.4(j) of the Standards of Professional Conduct for attorneys.

  14. charles said on 10 Mar 2013 at 11:11 pm:
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    Greg, did you attend college? Because when I attended college, long long ago, every item I turned in to a teacher was governed by similar rules; the school claimed the rights to use that material for educational purposes.

    I did a paper for one course, and it got published — with the teacher’s name first. I still had rights to it, but so did the teacher.

    Heck, I’m pretty sure that every year I sign away the rights of my kid’s picture — if anybody wanders around the school taking pictures or videos, they have the right to publish those on the website, or use them for promotion and other purposes.

    My point is that the IB thing may be annoying, but it is hardly unique — it’s pretty standard. I’ve actually NOT signed a few things, and I’ve also modified the paperwork more than a few times before signing.

    So, what I would suggest you do, is simply scan in the form, add a paragraph claiming the right to withdraw license at any time by written request, and then sign it. My guess is the school will never even notice, much less kick your kid out.

    (On the other hand, I had my daughter kicked out of Stonewall middle school one day for having purple hair. I had to dye my hair purple and go complain personally to get that little outrage rectified).

    And yes, while it is harder to prove, a direct false claim can be prosecuted, even when it is aimed at a government official.

    Did you know that when you use Instagram, Facebook/Instagram claims a non-exclusive right to use your pictures for all purposes, including selling it to advertisers?

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if, by submitting a comment here, I have relinquished my rights to these words, meaning that you have the right now to use them anyway you want. That’s how you get to either delete them, or you could prevent me from deleting them, and could ban me from your site and then ignore all requests to either publish or delete what I wrote.

  15. Greg L said on 10 Mar 2013 at 11:38 pm:
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    Charles, these are all interesting points, which I am quite used to seeing from you.

    There are some significant differences here that I believe are critical:

    1. We are dealing with minors, not college students. Minors are afforded additional protections under state and federal law that are not recognized here.

    2. Abuse by the entity can only be litigated in foreign courts where our state and federal constitutional protections do not apply. European law systems are vastly different than ours, particularly those that don’t have their foundation in what we know as English Common Law. Switzerland is such a case.

    3. The copyright holder is not the institution that is teaching your kids, but a foreign corporation that was established by the UNESCO and funded by the Ford Foundation until 1976. Any entity with this sort of pedigree is not something I will automatically trust.

    4. The process for a student to obtain an exception is ridiculous and administrators are actively tasked with discouraging these, and puts the onus on a minor as young as 11 making legal decisions about intellectual property. Not only that, but an exception isn’t valid unless an administrator gets a document filed in England somewhere. If my kid’s artwork is displayed at the Kelly Center, I have to sign off on it. If my kid’s artwork is sent off to a foreign country, that happens automatically without even a notification.

    5. Having a school solicit parents to enter into unusual legal agreements with third parties regarding their children should be highly suspicious in and of itself. That the school requires parents to say they have “acknowledged, read and understood and accepted” a document that was never provided to them raises that level of suspicion quite high.

    This is just plain bizarre and it involves my children. I will make it stop.

  16. Lisa said on 11 Mar 2013 at 6:59 am:
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    So PWCPS “choose not to participate” in the award of the MYP Certificate? What then is the purpose of buying into IB and forcing it upon ALL of the students in MS, other than to slap a faux-designer label on the school? Where is the scholarly evidence that the IB MYP improves student academic achievement? The answer is - THERE ISN’T ANY!

    IB is an ideology and a philosophy, NOT a curriculum. IB, in its own words, creates “global citizens” and focuses on “values and attitudes”. Those “values and attitudes” are governed by Swiss Law:

    Article 13: Governing law
    Swiss law governs these Rules for IB World Schools: Middle Years Programme and all other documents relating to authorization to implement the MYP.

    Other than the documents relating to authorization to implement the MYP, THERE IS NO ANNUAL CONTRACT between a school district and IBO. This means a school district may discontinue the MYP at any time and cut the wasteful spending on an IB Coordinator, IB annual membership fees and IB teacher training:

    Article 11: Termination by schools
    A school may terminate its authorization to teach the MYP by giving six months’ notice, to take effect from the beginning of the next school year, except that the teaching of the MYP shall continue until students already registered for IB Organization moderation have had the opportunity to obtain IB Organization validated grades. Fees remain payable to the IB Organization until the teaching has ended.

    Since PWCPS has already chosen not to participate in the IBO moderation, immediate termination is not a problem.

    Good luck fighting the IB beast, Greg. Thank you for your effort to take back our American public schools from this disreputable organization.l

  17. Rich said on 11 Mar 2013 at 7:04 am:
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    The discussion is very interesting beyond the specific dispute. There are so many modes of communication and activities where our privacy rights and ownership rights are seemingly compromised or relinquished. As recognized this happens most frequently when we check the innoculous but often required “I accept” box.

    Private interests, business and personal, can usually require such relinquishments so long as they are not completely over the top. We can then choose to deal with those private interests or not.

    The line is less clear, likely far less clear, when the relinquishment is requred by a governmental entity, especially in connection with an essential governmental function like education. I’ve not researched it but it would be interesting to see if , in the government services context, such clauses or “I accept’ boxes are enforeceable.

    My guess (truly no more than a guess) is that they would be upheld based on the following combination of factors: (1) how essential is the government service? (2) how reasonable/burdensome is the relinquishment and is the basis for it reasonable or arbitrary and capricious? (3) did the governmental agency have authority to mandate the particular condition? (4) does the government agency have authority to enforce the condition?

  18. Doug Brown said on 11 Mar 2013 at 8:09 am:
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    Is your hair still dyed? If you can dye your hair to defend your daughter’s right to self-expression , what’s the big deal in Greg suggesting a class action law suit to defend other children’s rights to their self-expression. Granted concerns that someone here or overseas might be cashing in on the ‘intellectual’ gifts and labor of young children might seem a stretch, but all kinds of hard to believe things make money in the modern world - stars of reality TV, mediocre and poorly performing boards of education, etc., Besides as Greg pointed out it’s the principle of the thing and the annoyance factor which can have a positive impact on things needing reform. Isn’t that the argument that class action lawyers use all the time?

  19. Greg L said on 11 Mar 2013 at 8:48 am:
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    Doug you raise a good counterpoint that I have been mulling over quite a bit. Is is farfetched to be concerned about a grant of intellectual property rights of minors by their parents to a third party?

    To envision the potential impacts we unavoidably have to engage in a lot of conjecture since we have no idea in advance what a student may produce, what value those productions might have, or how a third-party copyright might be used to exploit those creations. I don’t harbor an unreasonable number of fantasies that my wonderful daughter will become the next Pablo Picasso, Ayn Rand or Tim Berners-Lee, but I can’t preclude that from the realm of possibilities, as unlikely as it may be.

    That means I have a duty to protect her interests as best I can, just in case. I have no idea what the future holds.

    The language in IBO’s “General Regulations” specifically states that this grant is “for the duration of the statutory copyright protection,” which under US and international law is for seventy years until after the death of the author. Although there are some restrictions on how that third party might use the copyright, there’s the inevitable “catch all” of other purposes “or to those related activities of which it approves.” So if IBO likes something, or some other entity, that copyright can be used to further the interests of those individuals or entities without limit.

    So for my child’s adult life, and something approximating the lifespan of her grandchildren I am being asked to sign off on a non-exclusive third-party copyright (not license, but copyright) grant that is remarkably open-ended. To what legitimate end would this be?

    A limited license for the duration of a child’s enrollment in IB that isn’t transferable to third parties, limited to specific purposes, and not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of Switzerland might not raise such alarm. Why not choose such a path if there is no desire to harm the interests of the child, or the adult they become?

    Let’s say my daughter exceeds all expectations and creates something truly wonderful as a student. Something with real value. Will IBO duplicate it for their own corporate interests for the next 150 years? Will they try to claim the reason my daughter turned out to be such a remarkable individual was solely because of the IB program, which happily produces advertising for 50 years along with copies of her work as proof? Or perhaps they don’t like what she does in her adult life, and uses her works to promote the interests of an opposing entity that “it approves of” in order to try to thwart her crusade to end liberty crushing global governance schemes?

    We just don’t know. There’s just no reason to casually hand over all these rights.

  20. Robert L. Duecaster said on 11 Mar 2013 at 1:35 pm:
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    I recall the libs getting hold of something our Governor wrote as a law student and trying to use it against him, so you may be justified in your concern, Greg. On the other hand, I would hope you weigh the possibility of your concerns being realized against the hassle/expense of prosecuting such a case. Your time/effort may be better spent elsewhere.

  21. HokieMommy99 said on 17 Mar 2013 at 7:02 pm:
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    Lets face the facts people…

    1. The school systems in this country suck!!
    2. Teachers are under paid. I know this for a fact, because my Father was a teacher in Fairfax County for 30 years..
    3. The bullies run the schools not the administrators or the teachers. Oh, we have to be nice to Susie and Johnny because they may smack a teacher or another student or two if we don’t give them the their way. If my day, the first offense was a trip to Juvenile Hall for three years….at a minimum. It wasn’t tolerated then and it shouldn’t be today
    4. Our children are not taught anything….only how to memorize a few facts.
    5. English Lit, History, Music, Grammer, Art, Science, Social Studies, Humanities, and Math are not liberal teachings….it is called a full education.
    6. In the past low achieving students were placed in another classroom…to allow the students who wanted to learn and achieve had the chance to do so without interuptions.
    7. No Child Left Behind….needs to put in the dumpster.
    8. Real teaching needs to return.
    9. Stop picking on the teachers. Yes, there are a few bad ones but don’t dump them all into the same basket.
    10. The PWC School Board needs to be replaced. With parents who have children in the school system.

    The new school board should not be filled with crazy Republicans and Democrats with political agendas… but with Moms and Dads who care about the schools, teachers and most importanly the kids.

    If you choose to be on the PWC School Board….you do so for free. No county issued credit cards, no per deims, no mileage reimbursements, no salary. That money should be going to the students, schools, teachers, books, computers, etc…. and not down the hatch of some board member, superintent, or other political hot shot too cheap to pay for their own cocktails, lunches and dinners.

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