Accidents happen. Anyone who has spent time in a kitchen has cut themselves. Anyone who has ever swung a hammer has found their finger in the path of it. These wounds are unintentional. They happen and they serve to produce a lesson that it is far better to avoid a self-inflicted injury.

This is a lesson that the Brunswick School Board would be wise to heed. By the time this opinion piece is published on Friday, the School Board will have reconsidered their decision to run roughshod over the students at Coffin Elementary and their choice of a mascot at the new Furbush Elementary School. By Friday morning all will be well again and the board will be able to slink back to the shadows where they normally do their work.

That a decision elicited the amount of commentary on social media and stories in the press is rather remarkable.

The School Board wanted to fundamentally change all of the mascots and colors in town to align them with the Dragon’s orange and black at the high school. Now as a former Dragon I was always partial to the colors, but I thought the husky in red and white was a good look too. And what was better than the whale mascot at Jordan Acres Elementary School?

Now I am really dating myself.

Aren’t we always told that diversity is a good thing? What is more diverse than representing our schools with a Chickadee, a Bobcat and the aforementioned Husky and Dragon? No, the School Board decided to cut off their own ears and did not listen to the will of the people.

Scores of young children took part in a vote at Coffin. They took it seriously. They experienced their first lesson in how an election is conducted. And then in a move reminiscent of Panama or Venezuela, the vote was overturned.

At least one member of the School Board tried to defend the vote on social media by saying that the School Board was unaware of the vote by the children. That defense lasted only as long as it took to remember that a member of the Board informed them of the vote and the excitement after the election had taken place.

In short order, there were hundreds of comments on social media, scores of emails, a couple of reports on Portland news channels and enough frothing at the mouth to cause many on the board to wonder why they had kicked over the beehive. Eventually, it was determined that a meeting to discuss this matter would be held on Thursday night.

To say that it has been a tough week for the department and the Board since the decision may be an understatement. To say that this has energized a group of people who normally pay little attention to the Board would also be an understatement.

This is where the self-inflicted wound idea comes into play.

The School Board, despite an acknowledgment from the Superintendent that they thought it was possible that there would be push back, never really thought the parents and students would rise up. This is the School Board after all. Parents are usually not in the business of taking the School Board to task.

Sprinkled in the thoughts on social media, specifically the Community for Coffin Facebook page, were comments about contacting individual members of the School Board. Judging by the number of comments the inbox of most members’ email accounts must have been overflowing. Sadly, my own district’s board representative has a well-established history of not responding to communication, so I did not expect a response from the Chairman of the Board. And he did not disappoint.

If the School Board had left the colors and the mascots alone this would not have happened. Had the School Board not given the children at Coffin the option to vote on their choice this would not have happened.

The only positive thing that will have come out of this is that more people are becoming aware that most elective bodies like the School Board really don’t care about what their constituents think until they are filling up the Board’s email inbox or interrupting their dinner with a phone call. Only then will they listen.

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]

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