By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — 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 a free school meal program, multiple sources say.
Perhaps all that hate got to the board, which voted 5-4 Monday night to rescind it’s previous decision and keep the district in the expanded federally funded program — a move some likened to giving into a “hateful mob.”
“The outright lies replicated across national and local media outlets and social media have resulted in totally unacceptable and even criminal behavior primarily by individuals who do not even live in our District,” David Wadd, Waukesha School District resident and father of a student in the school system, wrote in an open letter to fellow citizens before Monday evening’s emergency meeting.
He pointed to a headline in The Washington Post, “A school district opted out of a free meals program, saying students could ‘become spoiled.’”
In fact, the board ended a pandemic-related expanded program that provides free meals to students, no matter what their family’s income level is. So taxpayers have been subsidizing families with incomes well above the poverty line, including the wealthiest families in the district.
Wadd in his letter claims:
- In the last 72 hours, after national media outlets such as the Washington Post wrote stories dishonestly portraying this decision as one that leaves those in need without food, our school board members and members of the District Administration have been threatened, harassed, doxed and bullied by activists from coast to coast to reverse their decision.
- The harassment has been so vile and threatening that board members are afraid to leave their homes and are afraid for the safety of their families. Multiple Board members have required the presence of law enforcement at their homes over the past 72 hours.
- This is UNACCEPTABLE and seem to me to be the very epitome of the kind of “criminal behavior” that the Wisconsin DOJ warned against just last week. As a citizen of this community, I would expect that they will be investigating these threats against our elected representatives and their families.
Other sources in the district confirm harassing communications.
“…(O)ne board member was told they were going to get a gun to their head …(a board member) has had to cancel her phone and put security at her house. Police are patrolling their homes and they need security to get to the school board meeting …,” one school district resident wrote in an email obtained by Empower Wisconsin.
District officials “have been doxxed and their families have been plastered on Twitter with personal home addresses.”
The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department would only say it had “nothing new to report.”
Empower Wisconsin reached out to the administration and every member of the school board Monday afternoon before the meeting. Many could not be reached for comment, and some did not return messages.
“Thanks horse face. Way to look out for the kids.” one unidentified individual wrote in a nasty email to board member Kelly Piacsek in which the emailer called Piacsek the “C-word.”
The phony narrative painted by the left, including a promised digital ad by the Democratic Party attacking district officials, insists children will go hungry. Such rhetoric has sparked protests against the district led by liberal activists. The board’s proposal would only end free, taxpayer-funded meals for students whose families are well above income levels for program eligibility.
In its story, The Washington Post reported:
Karin Rajnicek, a school board member, said the free program made it easy for families to “become spoiled.”
But Brett Healy of the MacIver Institute points to the video of the meeting in question. He notes Rajnicek during the May finance committee session clearly was talking about parents who can afford to buy/provide lunch for their children. Not all parents, not children, just well-to-do parents who unnecessarily use the free lunch program, Healy said.
“But when you make a blanket everything is free for everyone that means there are people out there who do not have kids and they are paying for my kids to eat,” Rajnicek said, as documented on video. “I feel like this is a big problem and it’s really easy to get sucked into and to become spoiled and then to just think that it is not my problem anymore, it’s everyone else’s problem to feed my children.”
The left and its public-relations firm in the mainstream media have clearly twisted the story, leaving out critical context. Perhaps liberals believe everyone should be entitled to government handouts, even people who are well off, but a lot of people don’t share that belief.
Rajnicek and other board members who stuck to their guns said the majority caved in to threats and intimidation, allowing broader federal involvement in local decision-making.