Conflict of interest in NEK ‘equity’ instruction?

By Guy Page

The organization overseeing the historic Northeast Kingdom school built by early Vermont black educator and legislator Alexander Twilight is benefiting financially from ‘equity’ contracts approved by local school boards, even as its board members sit on local school boards or hold other public school positions of authority, Ben Morley of FAIR posted on Facebook recently. 

“The Old Stone House [Museum and Historic Village] is a contractor for equity services at OCSU, and financially has a lot to gain from the implementation of the Equity Policy and grant funding resulting from compliance by our school district,” Morley, an anti-CRT activist, said. 

Twilight’s role as a leader in early 19th century Vermont is both remarkable and undisputed. The Old Stone House Museum and Historic Village provides this brief biography:

Born September 23, 1795, Mr. Twilight led a life devoted to education and faith. As the first African American to gain a college degree in the United States (from Middlebury College in 1823), his often-noted strong will and dynamic leadership made Historic Brownington Village what it is today.

In 1829, he was hired to be headmaster of the Orleans County Grammar School and was minister of the Brownington Congregational Church. Under his leadership, the Orleans County Grammar School thrived as a co-educational institution attracting boys and girls from throughout New England and Southern Canada who came from as far away as Boston and Montreal. Between 1833 and 1836 Mr. Twilight designed and led the construction of the four-story granite dormitory he called Athenian Hall—now our Old Stone House Museum.

Mr. Twilight became the first African American to serve in the state legislature in 1836  after his election to the Vermont House of Representatives. These achievements distinguish the character of Mr. Twilight who began his life indentured at a neighboring farm at the age of eight. He chose a path of education, while still performing farm labor, by reading and studying mathematics at Randolph Orange County Grammar School before continuing to Middlebury for a college degree.

Yet today some museum board members also sit on school boards overseeing the equity work and/or sit on the equity advisory committees. One is a school principal.

Morley mentioned three museum school board members:

Linda Michniewicz- Museum Board Member, OCSU Equity Committee Member, Lake Region Region School Board Member, OCSU Middle-School Board Member. 

Rodrick Owens- Museum Board Member, Equity Committee Member, OCSU Contractor, Substitute Teacher. 

Larry Fliegelman- Museum Board Member, Equity Committee Member,  Brownington Principal.

“Each one of these individuals has a lot of influence with spending and implementing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practices at OCSU in these roles,” Morley said. “And, they sit on the OCSU contractor’s Board of Directors as well.”

Vermont Daily Chronicle has reached out to Michniewicz and Fliegelman for comment and is attempting to contact Owens.

Categories: Education

2 replies »

  1. Evidently Ben Morley is not aware of the act of recusal which means “to remove oneself from participation in a decision where you have a conflict of interest.” Mr. Morley seems to be implying that the three individuals mentioned in this article are unethical and would, therefore, not recuse themselves in matters where there is a conflict of interest. This is a serious implication. If true, Mr. Morley must have specific examples of this obtained from attending museum board meetings and/or reviewing minutes of the meetings. We look forward to him sharing these examples.