Radnor School Board Tables Motion to Condemn Capital Insurrection


The School Board members voting on the motion to table Dr. Babson’s resolution. The motion passed 6-3.

Edy MacKenzie, Opinions Section Editor

On Tuesday, January 12, nearly a week after the insurrection at the Capitol building, the Radnor School Board met for a government relations and communications committee meeting. During this time, committee chair Andrew Babson, whose own great-great-great grandfather Washington Babson was part of the Maine regiment of the Union Army that protected the Capitol from the Confederates in the Civil War, introduced a possible message from the board that would explicitly state the school’s public disdain towards the riots.

The board did not vote on this exact statement, but the subject was brought forth again during their meeting on January 26. Dr. Babson brought forth the resolution and member Bradley Moore seconded the motion to discuss it. “A resolution is basically a public statement on the part of the board about anything,” explains Babson in an interview with the Radnorite. “It’s a very broad action that the board can take.” In this phone call, Dr. Babson referenced a recent resolution passed by the board to support prioritizing the vaccination of school staff by the state’s  General Assembly. His resolution on the Capitol insurrection would be a similar idea, however for condemnation rather than support. The new statement presented to the board is as follows: 


WHEREAS, a core vision of Radnor Township School District is that “each student will demonstrate caring by enhancing community through ongoing choice and action,” and

WHEREAS, the chief goal of the Radnor Township School District is to “challenge and support all students,” is firmly committed to promoting student safety, wellness and learning in the wake of violent historical events, and

WHEREAS, Radnor Township School District strives to instill in students respect for the tradition and tenets of democracy, and the necessity of civil discussion and engagement with one another and all institutions, public and private, and

WHEREAS, a hallmark of democracy is the peaceful transition of power by elected leaders, as outlined in the 12th and 20th amendments to the Constitution, which signals the government’s responsibility to respect the will of the people and provide legitimacy to our elections, uniting us as a people behind our country, their shared ideals, and a constitutional form of government, and

WHEREAS, the current procedure to ensure that votes of the Electoral College are tabulated in a civil, open, and transparent way is outlined in the Electoral Count Act, and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Capitol is the seat of our government which embodies our tradition of open, transparent, and democratic government, and

WHEREAS, individuals chose to disrupt and damage this cherished process on January 6, 2021, by attacking and forcing entry into the U.S. Capitol Building, resulting in damage to property, numerous injuries, and at least five casualties, and

WHEREAS, white supremacist and anti-democratic ideologies animated the actions of said individuals, and played a prominent role in the day’s events,

WHEREAS, it is the duty of district staff to educate students about these ideologies our nation’s history, thereby furthering justice and democracy in our nation, and,

WHEREAS, the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building temporarily halted the ceremonial tabulation of the Electoral College votes and upended the peaceful transition of government in the United States now

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of School Directors of Radnor Township School District condemns the violent actions of the individuals who invaded the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, and calls for civil and respectful discourse and engagement as a people, behavior which Radnor Township School District strives to instill in all students. 


“I think it’s important for us as a board to agree upon a written statement that affirms our commitment to democratic ideals, which were attacked on January 6th,” says Dr. Babson at the meeting. “Also I think it’s very important for us to recognize the role of white supremacism in what happened that day, and I think because we have initiatives as a district that aim to address issues of division in our society along race, ethnicity, and so on.” Babson also mentions to the Radnorite, “My overall thought for the resolution was that it could be a public statement by the board condemning what happened. This kind of public statement of values could then be used as a reference point for other district initiatives, and encourage educational dialogue, for example about historical events or situations. I believe it’s the kind of thing leading school districts do, and Radnor has long considered itself one such district.”

In mentioning possible backlash over a move from the board, Dr. Babson states that he believes this is a “very straightforward and, in my opinion, a really uncontroversial statement.”

Other members of the board, however, thought differently on the appropriate way to handle such a situation. Mr. Moore mentioned the April 2018 controversy over whether school boards should have the authority to arm teachers, an idea brought forth after that year’s horrendous number of school shootings. Moore supported a statement from the district condemning this resolution in 2018, as it directly impacted the Radnor board. However, he feels that the incident at the Capitol does not affect our schools in a direct-enough way for a statement to be necessary. “I do condemn the insurrection on January 6th,” Moore says, “[but] I think this kind of resolution is not the proper vehicle for that.”

Committee member Mrs. Dunn exhibited a similar opinion: “My role here this evening is as a school board member, and that is to support, obey, and uphold the Constitution. And I think, in that capacity, it is appropriate certainly to make statements condemning violence that tries to overthrow the government, any kind of insurrection, which is clearly what happened. But I don’t think that this is the right vehicle for that.”

Dr. Babson also stressed the importance of informing students about the Capitol invasion through the resolution. “There are kids, there are students in our district who want to discuss this, want to learn more about it,” he said. “Contrary to what some people might infer from this, my goal as an educator is never to prescribe what my students should think or how they should react about something that is discussed. The goal is for, educationally, which our staff is very highly qualified to do, to introduce the topic, to invite discussion and reflection about it for students to make up their own minds and their own decisions about it.” He tells the Radnorite, “My thinking is that students are looking to educational leaders about how to make sense of what happened and how to put it into context. It is not an invitation to think one way or another, but to have the district’s point of view to be a starting point.” Mrs. Dunn responded to this motive by acknowledging that many teachers have already felt it necessary to reflect with their students on the incident. She remarked on the importance of allowing educators to feel comfortable enough to discuss an issue of such gravity, but felt that a statement allowing further discussion is unnecessary at this time.

If the board had decided to vote on the resolution, they would have had to listen to public comment before. The statement was not listed on the agenda; therefore, the conversation of whether to release a condemnation would have to take place next meeting, after community members have had a chance to weigh their opinions. Instead, the board moved to table the resolution without a specified date in a 6-3 motion, meaning it will not be discussed again until brought up by a committee member and seconded by another at a future meeting. As no board members besides Dr. Babson voiced their support, the possibility of another discussion is unlikely.

Many bi-partisan companies have voiced their opinions on the events at Capitol Hill by withdrawing contributions to politicians who voted against election certification: PGA of America will no longer allow the Trump National Golf Club to host the 2022 PGA Championship, Lehigh University has stripped Trump of his honorary degree, and even Coca-Cola condemned the violence. Trump has been suspended from multiple social media outlets, most notably Twitter. The CEO of McDonald’s, according to Business Insider, labeled the insurrection as “an attack on all those things that people cherish and associate with America.” Although the school board did not openly condemn the riots, many companies and institutions feel differently on the subject.

Dr. Babson says he will not bring the motion off the table for further discussion during the next business meeting on February 23rd . “There is still no support for the resolution among my fellow board members,” he tells the Radnorite. “That’s government sometimes. Disagreements are normal, even among our board, which is a pretty cohesive unit.” Multiple committee members spoke at the meeting on January 26 to condemn the violence themselves, but felt releasing a statement was not in the board’s best interests. Mrs. Dunn mentioned the timing, as the insurrection occurred over a month ago, and we have since inaugurated a new president.

Although the board did not vote on the resolution, communities and institutions continue to debate the insurrection at the Capitol building and its implications nearly a month after their occurrence. In Babson’s own words, “I basically saw this as a resolution that democracy is good and racism is bad. I didn’t expect it to be controversial.” However, Babson respects the decision of his colleagues. “Personally, I’m a little disappointed, but on the other hand I have to take into account that my other board members have a different opinion. We have four new board members, and they are serving on the board in a situation that hasn’t happened in a century and no one foresaw. Like with the pandemic, we didn’t choose this, history chose us. How we manage that is up to the nine of us to work out.”