To the editor:
This is in response to Nelson Benton’s opinion piece regarding voting in schools (”An ‘insult’ to voters,” Oct. 11), I feel I must set the record straight. Nelson writes that myself and members of the school board are suggesting that citizens of Peabody “cannot be trusted around children and are not entitled to use the very facilities their taxes bought and maintain.” That is an awful thing to insinuate and write, and you, Mr. Benton, should be ashamed of yourself for trying to make the readers think that way. My only investment in this subject is to do what I think is right. Using the previously given but often misrepresented facts, I feel that I am correct, as do many other people who have reached out to me regarding this issue.
Here are some of the other reasons this paper chooses to ignore:
— Currently, we do close school for the November election each year. I feel that is an interruption to the educational experience, especially since most months of November never see the student in school for one full week, given the fact that there is Veterans Day and Thanksgiving in that month, as well.
— The past school year, there were five election days and the potential for six. Those are six days that were not planned for in our school calendar, and we had voting in the schools (due to special elections) while school was in session. Although the newspaper will have you think that I am only concerned with the voters walking around our buildings and strangers entering, I will assure you that it is not the responsible voter that I am worried about. Many of our schools cannot handle the parking or traffic, and children are not allowed to use the outdoor recess area or the gym on these days. The teaching staff does not bring the children down to see the democratic process, so it is not a teaching moment. Quite the contrary, the teachers do not let the children out of their classrooms on those days because of the many unknown people in the building. I feel that Peabody should be taking a proactive step and remove the polling locations from all of our school buildings. There are currently four other states that have bills in legislation to have a ban on voting in school buildings (Illinois, Indiana, New York and Virginia). I think Peabody voters deserve a more accessible voting location, and Peabody schoolchildren deserve to have an uninterrupted educational setting.
Peabody School Committee