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Letter: Community means listening to each other with respect and an open mind

May 4, 2017 

Wilton Bulletin | To the Editors:

As a journalist, I feel one of the most important qualities we must hold onto is our objectivity.

However, as Wilton school parent, it is difficult to not form any opinion when the district in the news is the one educating my own children.

I have the additional perspective of being a long-time reporter in Darien, which also went through a period of serious school district challenges that we covered extensively. Fairfield County towns rely heavily on their school districts as the crown jewel which draws home buyers and lifts real estate values. And for the most part, these districts do a wonderful job educating our children. I am always grateful for that.

That school district power can, either in reality, or in perception, feel intimidating to those who find themselves needing to criticize it. But that power does not mean that school board members and administrators are infallible — though sometimes, some give the appearance they believe they are.

Criticizing our school districts is not an easy thing to do as our communities tend to go on the defense as a pack — see crown jewel comparison above.

This happened in Darien, which has thankfully moved on to better times, and it is happening now in Wilton as the lawsuit against the district over its handling of a complaint against Eric von Kohorn plays out. Friends, neighbors and parents go back and forth angrily on social media and seem often to be unable to just listen.

I have read the latest lawsuit paperwork. If you are a school parent, and have not, I strongly encourage you to. I am not a lawyer, but there is more than the letter of the law to be gleaned from these documents. Arguments in court are much more often driven by minimizing financial impact than anything else — but when it comes to our children there has to be more considered than that. This court case will come and go and the system will move on to the next one. It is more than that to us as a community. There’s the court decision, and there’s the decision that each of us has in our own heart and mind as to what is ultimately right and wrong.

From my experience, as emotions run high, I strongly encourage all of us as a community to listen to each other, and respect each other’s opinions — in the end, we all want Wilton to be the best community it can be. The parents who are currently criticizing the district love their children and want to protect them just as much as those who are defending it.

We can’t change the tide when it comes to the judicial process. What we can do is look within our own actions as a community and a school district to make sure that all of our voices are heard and respected — and hope that going forward, we will never need a judicial process to decide for us again.

Susan Shultz

Wilton, April 28

The writer is the editor of The Darien Times, sister paper of The Wilton Bulletin, both publications of the HAN Network.

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