Danielle Deinert, a candidate for Milford School District’s board, fielded questions on key education issues like LGBTQ+ rights, critical race theory and school safety in a forum Wednesday night.
Milford’s forum is one of six hosted by First State Action Fund, a local group aiming to reinvent education in Delaware. The series is intended to help voters understand candidate’s positions in order to make an informed decision in the May 9 school board elections.
Although Milford’s has four candidates running, Deinert was the only candidate to participate in the forum. Ashlee Connell, Victor “Butch” Elzey III and Jennifer Massotti did not attend.
Deinart, who is a stay-at-home mom from Lincoln, has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in special education with certifications in severe disabilities and autism.
She’s worked as a paraprofessional, a teacher of multiple grade levels and an administrator across multiple school districts including Cape Henlopen, Caesar Rodney, and most recently, in Milford, at Mispillion Elementary.
“In my role as an administrator, I’ve often read the school bus and had conversations around discipline, implemented trauma informed practices and had many other opportunities to work with teachers,” she said. “I am also a parent of three children, two of which currently attend Milford schools.”
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Deinart frequently volunteers in Milford schools, coaches little league sports and is on the Parent Teacher Partnership leadership team at two schools.
School safety is a top priority for her, and she said the amount of gun deaths in America’s youth is alarming.
“We have an estimated 4.6 million children living in a home with at least one loaded unlocked firearm,” she said. “I support public awareness campaigns that encourage safe firearm storage practices in order to make sure that our students are safe at home and not having access to firearms.”
Training of staff members is key to preventing a crisis, she said, and she plans on working closely with school constables and school resource officers to work on improving safety measures in the district.
She didn’t directly say if she supports critical race theory, but she indicated she’s against banning books.
“Students need access to a historically accurate education, and my goal is that we are producing students that are able to adapt to our ever evolving world, use critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and collaborate with others,” she said. “I feel that this can only be accomplished through providing our students with high-quality literature and reading materials that challenge them to think critically. “
Educational materials should be free from censorship, she said, and should lead to open dialogue about America’s history.
Training and support measures should be implemented with Milford’s staff to make sure they are comfortable having some tough conversations with students, she said, and that teachers are embracing the whole-child approach, focusing on academic, social, physical and emotional wellbeing.
“My goal as a representative of that community is to make sure that every child is represented regardless of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their income level, or their gender,” she said. “I want to make sure that they feel that I am someone that they can come to discuss concerns, ideas and questions.”
Students deserve to feel comfortable and have an equal and equitable education, regardless of their background or identity, she said.
While Deinart believes discipline practices must be implemented that are appropriate and include consequences that make sense to the behavior that occurred, she said there must be a strong teaching component as well.
That’s important, she said, “So that we are working on behavioral change, instead of just punishing for something that occurred.”
Every parent deserves the right to place their child in the school they see best fit, and parents should play a large role in their children’s educational journey, she said.
She said data-driven practices, teacher support, and clear goal-setting is vital to improving the state’s abysmal test scores.
Caesar Rodney School District’s forum is Thursday at 6 p.m., and Seaford School District’s is Thursday at 7:15 p.m. Watch them live on First State Action Fund’s Facebook page.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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