Opinion: Princeton board member supports candidates in accordance with Schools Ethics Commission

I am writing as a Princeton Public Schools parent and private citizen and not on behalf of, or authorized by, the Board of Education, of which I am an elected member.

I believe that school board members have a duty, acting as private citizens, to encourage and support other dedicated individuals to serve as unpaid members of the board. I know the commitment, temperament and energy it takes to serve as a school board member, and believe serving as a school board member is the most important public service role in our community. The Board of Education oversees a $100 million annual budget for the benefit of nearly 4,000 students. School spending has steadily increased year over year and now represents 49% of the overall Princeton property tax bill-without measurable improvements in advancing racial equity or closing the achievement gap.

For too long there have been too few candidates running for the Board of Education. This year there are eight candidates running for three board positions. I hope the real winner of this election will be the diverse student body and community, many of whom may be forced to relocate due to increasingly unaffordable school spending.

I am transparently supporting a diverse slate; Paul Johnson, Karen Lemon, Bill Hare and Adam Bierman. I have conducted myself in accordance with School Ethics Commission (which oversees school board member conduct), Advisory Opinion A36-14, which finds that “”there would be no violation of the Act for you [a school board member] to express yourself politically as a private citizen with regard to the endorsement of candidates in any election. You do not give up your fundamental rights as a citizen upon being seated on a Board of Education.”

During the final weeks of this election season, I call on all candidates, and their supporters, to conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful to all and model behavior that we should expect from our elected leaders; transparency, honesty and civil discourse.

Daniel J. Dart
Princeton