GREENWICH — Two opposing groups rallied at Central Middle School before Greenwich Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting Thursday evening. When asked why they were there, they’d say the same thing: “We want politics left out of school.”

The smaller of the two sides, whose participants wielded signs like “Keep the GOP out of school,” didn’t believe the school district pushed politics.

The larger group, with around 75 members, wanted changes.

The confrontation follows outspoken discontentment with Greenwich Public Schools after the release of a viral video in which Cos Cob assistant principal Jeremy Boland appears to discuss discriminatory hiring practices.

For critics of the district, the video was the “tip of the iceberg,” some said Thursday.

“It just brought to light everything we knew — or we assumed,” said Jacqueline, a mother who declined to share her last name.

She said her friends told her that their high-school-aged children had teachers that shared their dislike for former president Donald Trump.

They didn’t believe students should know their teachers’ political affiliation. This opinion was shared at a board meeting earlier in the month by Western Middle School principal and social studies curriculum co-coordinator Gordon Beinstein.

“My message to the staff was really simple: No one is paying you to put your values on their kids,” he said Sept. 8. “We’re here to have discussions. There may be controversial questions, but it’s not about taking sides; they shouldn’t know where you stand.”

On Thursday, the protesters criticizing the district varied in their accusations.

“From what I understand, the unifying factor for this group is about education, not activism,” said Tony Marek, a father of GPS students. “There may be other people here with other motives, but I can’t speak to that,” he said.

The meeting’s public comment period allowed community members to give input — including those with the harshest opinions.

Some repeated the demands of a letter signed by 67 republicans calling for Superintendent Toni Jones and Deputy Superintendent Ann Carabillo to be placed on administrative leave during investigations into Boland’s comments. 

Greenwich protestors demand politics stay out of school

Members of Greenwich Patriots applaud a speaker during the public comments at the Board of Education meeting at Central Middle School in Greenwich, Conn., on Thursday September 22, 2022. 

Christian Abraham/Hearst Connecticut Media

Others criticized Jones and the board.

“This is a wake-up call to parents who think Dr. Jones is doing a good job. In some ways, she is. But in light of the record poor student performance and the nationwide administrative embarrassment, how could any thinking person just accept all is okay?” Gail Lauridsen said, pointing out low standardized test scores compared to previous years.

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