In an emotional and detailed letter to the community, Central Bucks School District Superintendent Abram Lucabaugh pointed to adults to correct the “chaos” that’s embroiled the suburban district for the past two years.
“The change we need as a district must come in the form of adults encouraging students to connect with and see one another as fellow human beings who can respectfully coexist regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation and political affiliation,” Lucabaugh wrote in the March 28 correspondence.
He called on community-wide support “to restore what has been eroded…” and “return our district to excellence.
“We need to marshal our collective wisdom and creativity and commit to setting the example by treating each other with the dignity we all deserve, regardless of our views,” said the superintendent.
Pennsylvania’s fourth largest school district has garnered national attention since the COVID-19 pandemic sparked intense debate over masking and school closures divided the community, as it did the nation.
The fierce discord that often erupted at standing-room-only school board meetings later moved to matters of LGBTQ+ rights, new library policies some believed tantamount to censorship, and prohibition of teachers from advocating “political, partisan or social policy issues” in their classrooms.
Lucabaugh denied the “myth” that the library policy was book banning. “It requires books to be free of sexually explicit content and graphic depictions of explicit sexual content,” he said in his letter.
In a federal complaint last year, the ACLU Pennsylvania alleged the district created a “toxic and hostile environment” for LGBTQ+ students. The school district responded by hiring a prestigious law firm, led by a former U.S. Attorney and Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain to investigate the allegations.
During his candidacy, McSwain referred to a West Chester Area School District Gay-Straight Alliance club as “leftist political indoctrination.”
Lucabaugh said he has been asked to speak out against injustice during his tenure but believes doing so “only furthers the rhetoric that CBSD is a breeding ground for injustice, intolerance, and fear, which we are not.
“The change we need as a district,” said Lucabaugh, “comes not in the form of me as the superintendent proclaiming organizational positions on current social and political issues or events. Nor will it come in the form of my exclusion or condemnation of members of our community simply because they hold views on social and political issues that some, or even many, disagree with.”
Rather, he said, “we need to abandon all the political and social ideology in favor of a rigorous and robust high-quality education that gives every child in our district a solid foundation for life.”