Banner criticizing Princeton School Board appointment stirs controversy
On Tuesday, November 1, a large banner was placed in front of the Princeton Mall targeting the three incumbents of the Princeton Board of Education for re-election: Susan Kanter, Debbie Bronfeld and Dafna Kendal. Kendal currently serves as president of the Board of Education.
The banner calls for Bronfeld, Kanter and Kendal to be voted out, but at least one is certain to remain on the Board, as there are only five candidates for three contested seats. The other two candidates are challengers Margarita “Rita” Rafalovsky and Lishian “Lisa” Wu.
Rafalovsky did not respond to a request for comment from The Prince.
The banner was condemned by Kanter and Kendal, with Kanter writing to The Daily Princetonian that “I am outraged and disappointed that such a hateful sign has been placed in our city.”
Bronfeld did not respond to a request for comment from The Prince.
Junglien Chen put up the banner and created the website shared on the board—nobkk.org, which primarily questions the Board’s decision to hire Dr. Carol Kelley as superintendent.
According to the website, Chen opposes Kelley’s previous policies as superintendent of the Oak Park Elementary School District in Illinois. On the website nobkk.org, Chen processed complaints about the implementation of “false equity” policies in the Oak Park school district.
Kelley did not respond to a request for comment from ‘Prince.’
In an interview with The Daily Princetonian, Chen recounted his meetings with the Princeton Board of Education, saying “they were very reluctant to explain what they want to implement at Princeton,” and adding that sign viewers should go to website nobkk.org to “understand what had happened in Oak Park.” Chen noted that he “[doesn’t] I want to see that replicated in our school district.”
Chen’s children attend Princeton Charter School — not in the Board’s jurisdiction — but still said he felt it was important to raise his concern.
“I think this issue is not just a local issue. Whatever you teach is going to produce a class of students that I don’t want to be taught according to what they’re trying to bring in,” he said.
Kanter challenged the notion of these values being brought to the Princeton community, writing to The Prince that, “It is the duty of all candidates to call out racist and anti-trans sentiments that do not represent the values of our community. All students deserve to are supported and celebrated. It is especially important to model civil discourse and respect in school board elections as our students are always watching and learning.”
That sentiment was echoed in Kendall’s email.
“Princeton is a welcoming community and while everyone has the right to free speech, we educate all children and they all deserve to feel safe. There has been an undercurrent of racism and anti-LGBTQ sentiment throughout this campaign, and this is further evidence of that,” Kendall wrote in an email to The Prince.
Charlie Roth is a news staff writer and assistant feature editor for Prince, focusing on local city coverage. Please direct any correction requests to [email protected]