By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — A Waukesha School Board member says a majority of his colleagues caved to the radical left mob Monday night in voting to rescind a previous vote ending a federally-funded program that provides free meals to all students — including the wealthiest in the district.
More so, Anthony Zenobia says he was stunned by Waukesha Superintendent James Sebert’s silence and refusal to stand up for district staff and board members who have been harassed and intimidated in a wave of vile communications.
“I was astounded at how weak our leadership was last (Monday) night. Frankly, I’m embarrassed about it,” Zenobia told Empower Wisconsin. He was one of four board members to stand firm and against the majority on the reversal. He was the only school board rep or administrator to return requests for comment.
As Empower Wisconsin reported, Waukesha School Board members have been hit with a barrage of hostile communications, including death threats, after distorted media headlines declared the district was ending the free school meal program.
In fact, the board earlier this summer voted to opt out of the pandemic-related, expanded program that provides free meals to students, no matter what their family’s income level is. Taxpayers have been subsidizing families with incomes well above the poverty line. Zenobia and — until Monday’s 5-4 rescinding action — many other members of the school board believe the expanded program is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a hindrance to efforts to assist those truly in need.
But state and national news outlets painted the board’s decision as an assault on poor children and families that would lead to kids going hungry. The Washington Post and other news outlets erroneously quoted district officials, creating a false narrative that radical left organizations used to gin up liberal outrage for political purposes. The unhinged left followed up with verbal threats and harassment.
In one case, a board member was told they were going to get a gun to their head.
Police reportedly patrolled the neighborhoods of board members over the weekend.
Many of the communications are filled with expletives and vile terms (the C-word comes up a lot), according to emails to the board obtained by Empower Wisconsin. There are the usual liberal race-based recriminations, declaring the board members are white supremacists. Some are bursting with hyperbole. Others come with veiled threats.
“Why wont (sic) you stand up for american children instead of letting them die?” wrote [email protected]. “bitch asses too scared to reply. all of you going to be spoiled in severe ways.”
The emailer, using the word spoiled, was referring to a comment from board member Karin Rajnicek, who said the free program made it easy for families outside the low income thresholds to “become spoiled.” That phrase was reported and repeated widely by major news outlets — and it was irresponsibly reported out of context. The video of the meeting clearly shows Rajnicek talking about higher income families who grow accustomed to getting free meals subsidized by taxpayers. Her statement instead was interpreted as referring to poor children for whom the free-and-reduced meal program originally was designed.
“After the Washington Post ran its story, which was likely fed to them by a liberal local advocacy group who endorsed losing candidates in April’s elections, an avalanche of vitriol and threats befell the Waukesha School Board,” state Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville said in a statement, referring to the Alliance for Education in Waukesha.
The group released a statement celebrating their big win in the board’s policy reversal. As Stroebel notes, the statement was devoid of any mention, condemnation or remorse about the “unprecedented threats.”
The senator finds it curious that advocates for liberal policies in schools went to the press and Attorney General Josh Kaul to discourage parents from criticizing any liberal school board action or COVID restrictions.
“At the very same time, they gladly accept a conservative policy reversal born out of nationwide threats and intimidation,” Stroebel said. “Several board members had police protection over the weekend, but no one seems to care. Liberal silence on what happened to the Waukesha School Board members is hypocrisy in the extreme.”
He encouraged parents, community members and conservative school board members not to back down when liberal groups use confrontational tactics.
“If your opponents are using threats and intimidation to try and get their way, it means two things: you are winning and stay the course,” the senator said.