Schenectady County

Duanesburg PTA meeting, election draws crowd, neighborhood group gains no seats

Many Duanesburg residents, including children, showed up to the Duanesburg Community Parent-Teacher Association meeting and election Wednesday evening.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Many Duanesburg residents, including children, showed up to the Duanesburg Community Parent-Teacher Association meeting and election Wednesday evening.

DUANESBURG A Duanesburg neighborhood group’s plans to get members elected to the Duanesburg Community Parent-Teacher Association Wednesday evening fell drastically short as none of the group’s members were elected. 

“I think tonight the people of Duanesburg showed where their hearts and their intentions are and we’re committed to preserving a community that supports all individuals and values goodness over political factions,” said PTA president Deanna Fox, re-elected Wednesday night.

At stake were the seats on the PTA executive committee – the president, first vice president, second vice president, treasurer, recording secretary and correspondence secretary. 

Prior to the meeting and election, Fox said a Facebook group called Vigilant Neighbors was trying to wean its way onto the PTA with the intent of “acquiring positions of powers in the PTA to get into schools to find evidence of their narrative.” 

That narrative, she said, is that the district has a gay agenda and is teaching critical race theory, among other things. 

She also said a lot of this comes from rhetoric from the last presidential election that spurred people to get involved more locally, including during the most recent school board elections. 

The Facebook group has 70 members but is a private group, leaving any discussion on the page amongst those within the group’s numbers. 

However, the page’s “About” section states the groups intentions are “to be on the front-line as the voice, the advocate for our children and our neighbors’ children against any and all DCS staff, policy, teaching, training, workshop, class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity, assignment, etcs, that may cause them harm.”

Fox said the group was formed by Cliff Bradshaw, who ran for recording secretary, and newly-elected school board member Avis Sanchez.

During Bradshaw’s two-minute remarks, he said people should vote for someone who is truthful, not someone that spreads “lies, fear  or intimidation.” 

“I am willing and able to work with anyone who wants to positively transform this organization,” he said

Regardless of intent, the atmosphere in Joe Bena Hall remained calm and light, even as hundreds turned out to vote in an election that required the assistance of the Schenectady County League of Voters and was attended by Kyle McCauley Belokopitsky, the executive director for the New York State PTA.

During the meeting, Belokopitsky spoke about how the PTA is an organization of dream makers for all students and supporting every child.

The Vigilant Neighbors group was the reason Pam and Mike Jackson became new members of the PTA. Mike Jackson had served on the school board for one term from 2014 to 2017. The two live in the area but their kids attend private school. 

“We’re against what they stand for,” Mike Jackson said of the Vigilant Neighbors group. 

Donning a shirt in support of the LGBTQ+ community, Dianne Acevedo attended the meeting with her husband and two kids, who also voted. Acevedo said she joined the PTA about a week ago because she wanted to ensure her kids were treated equally. Her daughter, she said, is part of the LGBTQ+ community and her son has ADHD and is on the autism spectrum.

“I care about my kids,” she said. “I don’t want anything to happen to them. I don’t want them to be excluded.”

In all, Fox said she believes the PTA has quadrupled in size.

“We usually have about 100 people, give or take 20,” Fox said prior to the start of the meeting. 

She expected it to be more like 400 at the end of Wednesday night. 

Even kids signed up to join and participated in the election.

Fox said state PTA rules state that “members need to understand the business of the election.” She said she’s never seen any preschool-aged kids participate and Wednesday night kids in kindergarten – around age six by this time of year – were able to cast a ballot. 

Shannon Gordon and Betty Biittig were also new members. Gordon has taught for 24 years in the district and is currently a special education teacher. She said she’s been on the committee on and off over the years.

“I think it’s good to have people come out,” she said. 

Biittig, who has worked in the district offices for 22 years, said she hopes people were educated on all the PTA does and will want to help the organization.

Here are the vote counts: 

President

Deanna Fox – 169

Marlena Securo – 62

First Vice President

Jay Gignac – 60

Megan Kapusta – 170

Second Vice President

Michelle DeLeon – 193

Treasurer

Amy Walsh – 172

Haley Peterson – 58

Correspondence Secretary

Samantha Spor – 172

Isabelle Mormando – 44

Marlena Securo – 14

Recording Secretary

Cliff Bradshaw – 60

Carey Raymond – 168

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.

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1 Comments
Chuck D June 2, 2022
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Reality bytes, trumpers. Reality bytes (and bites).
No one’s buying it.