LTE: Decline Recall

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Dear Editor and Reading Residents,

Emails sent by parents to school administrators and teachers about optional resources provided to families after the January 6th Capitol attack were the primary focus of a Public Records Request (PRR) a few months ago. Principals and staff considered some of the emails they received about the issue to be acrimonious and disheartening. Unfortunately, children’s privacy was inadvertently violated when personal information was mistakenly left in some of the emails before they were released by the town and school district to the public. Since then, some in our community have been slandering School Committee Vice Chair, Shawn Brandt, who didn’t ask for or share the private information, while downplaying or ignoring serious errors made by town employees responsible for the breach.

In my opinion, gratuitous social shaming and public verbal attacks against neighbors under the guise of “protecting our children” is harmful and counterproductive. I understand emotions are raw, but disparaging Mr. Brandt’s character and reputation on social media, demanding his resignation, and petitioning for an unwarranted recall against him are not the fair or reasonable responses in this case. Can we all take a breath, and then consider the idea that more harm might be done not only to our children but to our entire community if we continue down this path of undue retribution?

Parents are justifiably angry that private information wasn’t initially redacted from their emails that were included in the PRR. I am angry on their behalf. Town staff have apologized for their mistake, as indeed they should. That said, the facts clearly show that Mr. Brandt acted with care and appropriateness when he discovered un-redacted material mistakenly remained in at least one of the public documents that was shared with him. A recall of Mr. Brandt would not only be wrong but also incredibly divisive, unproductive, and expensive for the residents of Reading.

You may be asked to sign a recall petition in the coming weeks. I would ask you all to politely decline.

Carolyn Johnson
Thorndike Street

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