As the parent of two Portland Public Schools students, I’m grateful that the district’s formal policy “encourages the regular participation by parents/guardians in all aspects of their school system.”

Imagine my surprise to hear, then, that City Councilor Nick Mavodones had submitted a Freedom of Access Act request to obtain the email correspondence between myself and Superintendent Xavier Botana about renovating the city’s four crumbling elementary school buildings – Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot and Reiche.

I found myself as a parent under investigation by a city councilor for working with Superintendent Botana and the school parent-teacher organizations on a “backpack mailing” – a simple flier sent home with students informing families that city leaders are considering renovating their children’s schools.

Councilor Mavodones even claimed in your article Monday that the flier was “no different than sending home Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton campaign materials.” Really?

Councilor Mavodones is the only councilor on the School Facilities Ad Hoc Committee who doesn’t support a $61 million to $70 million bond to renovate the four rundown schools. That’s fine – he’s entitled to his view. But he shouldn’t use his position of power to chill the involvement of parents in our children’s education or to intimidate our new superintendent.

It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since Portland made a major investment in its school buildings. And unless we all speak out, our children will continue to be taught in closets, hallways and rundown trailers that fail to meet minimum standards for health, safety and learning.

I know I won’t stop fighting for a 21st-century school for my two girls and all Portland children, and I hope the rest of the council will stand with us.

Emily Figdor


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