LACONIA — As an indication of school board meetings becoming increasingly contentious events, a small group of protesters organized in the parking lot of the Laconia School District office Tuesday evening. Seven adults and four children attended the protest, bearing signs with slogans like “Let us breathe,” and “children aren’t lab rats.”
The school board does not require vaccinations for students, but they are required to wear masks while indoors at school if they are unable to maintain a social distance of six feet.
According to Superintendent Steve Tucker, the board has been partnering with public health officials to set up vaccination clinics after school hours.
“We’re looking at vaccinations for children ages five to 18 after school around 4-7 p.m. That way parents can come with young children,” Tucker said. “With the screening questions, there could be questions the parents will need to be there for.”
Back outside, the protesters talked among themselves and displayed their signs in the growing dark. There were also generalized concerns regarding the equity and quality of the region’s education system as a whole.
“Laconia schools have been failing for a long time,” said protester Ronnie Abbot. “When I was in school, I’d say they were failing then.” Abbot has lived in Laconia for over 30 years, and said he was concerned about critical race theory being taught in schools – something the district has repeatedly said isn't happening.
“There’s a classist system in a lot of public schools. If you grow up having, you grow up getting, if you don’t have, you don’t get,” Abbot said. “I remember having a guidance counselor go into a meeting with the principal saying I need to be in AP classes, and the principal said no, ‘he’s too loud, he’s too much of a trouble maker, he will bother the rest of the kids’. Because I was on the lower end of the money spectrum, I didn’t grow up with anything. I got bored with school because I was in regular people's classes, I was treated like I was basically nothing. And that happens to a lot of kids in this classist system.”
Other protesters, who didn't want to identify themselves to a reporter, expressed a sentiment that their concerns weren't being taken seriously by the school board.
It’s not clear if the protest had an impact on school board attendees, as those seen arriving seemed to ignore the demonstration and the protesters’s attempts to engage them.