Rodney McFarland walking streets with Vickie Dayton hoping blacks ignore her Trump supporting ties, and give her another term representing the mostly black district on the school board.
Vickie Dayton is feeling the heat for the first time in her 30 year tenure on the Monroe City School Board; her district is now 60 percent black, but, by her own words, she has never reached out to blacks in her district for input.
Dayton, a Trump supporting Republican, is facing Rick Saulsberry, a black Democrat in her re-election bid.
How could Dayton ignore Blacks for so long? When she was elected the district was all white. However, over 30 years Blacks have moved into the district as whites moved out. It is now 60 percent black. She faced black opponents in the past, but easily defeated them because of the white, Republican, majority of the district.
In the era of Trump, blacks are coming out of the woodworks, opposing anything remotely associated with Donald Trump. Dayton is hoping that is not true and their Republican affiliation will not matter.
While Dayton has voted for many changes that helped black students, she says she has never sought input from or met with her growing black constituency for three decades. When she made major votes to shift white students from Cypress Point from Carroll to Neville High School or to approve principal appointees at schools in the district she says she did not consult with any of her black constituents.
In recent public forums, Dayton admitted that she has never sought input from her black constituents before making major decisions. Knowing that the words “Republican” and “Trump” work against her among Blacks she is knocking on doors in Black neighborhoods like Cypress Point with the help of fellow school board member Rodney McFarland.
Ironically, McFarland is a member of the Democratic Central Steering committee, committed to supporting Democratic candidates, opposing the Trump agenda.
“I think its strange that a member of the Democratic committee is out promoting a Trump era Republican. For 30 years Mrs. Dayton has ignored our people, but now that blacks are in the majority she is knocking on our doors. How hypocritical,” said Saulsberry.
At forums, Dayton was criticized for pushing to remove federal anti-discrimination protections from the system. Without federal protections, Blacks would need to file new law suits to stop future discrimination by the school board. The federal law suit gave blacks a way to stop discriminatory practices. White residents wanted the protections removed.
McFarland made campaign promises to keep the protections, he even testified in court against their removal. Then to the surprise of the Black community, he led the school board to request that the protections be removed in a court action called achieving “Unitary Status.”
For many in the Black community “Unitary Status” means freedom to discriminate without immediate court oversight.
It was a deemed a major “sellout” of the black community by Alumni groups, the NAACP, educators and parent organizations. In a surprising show of unity, not one black organization or leader approved the move.
McFarland was praised by white city school board members in January of this year for single-handedly helping them get rid of the protections. In the process, McFarland snubbed the NAACP and ignored over 1,000 letters and petitions from blacks that opposed the move.
Also at Forums Dayton said she voted to relocate MLK Middle School in a flood zone near Wossman because she thought it would facilitate better transition. Every resident of the community opposed the plan, but Dayton and McFarland voted for the relocation, even though the new construction would add to the flooding in that community.
Dayton said last year she voted to close Excellence Academy on the basis of a report that recommended that the board either work closely with the school for improvement or shut it down. She said she did not seek any input from the school, its parents or faculty. She said she didn’t check to see if the report was accurate before voting on one day’s notice to close the school.
McFarland also voted to close the school which put its 27 member faculty and staff out of work and displaced 200 families. He didn’t conduct any community meetings or seek input from the community either.
Both McFarland and Dayton voted for efforts to build the Carroll Magnate building and the Wossman field house. However, the two of them also voted together on major moves that hurt the black community, without any input from their districts.
Saulsberry, a middle school teacher, is a businessman and educator. He says he will make hearing from the district a high priority. He said for three decades black residents of District 1 have been ignored with respect to school zones, curriculum, principal selections, and other matters.
He said the Trump era ideas of ignoring minorities needs to come to an end.
Saulsberry said it’s time for a change.