New Pro-Parents School Board Members Begin Work In Ocean City, NJ

Last week, Robin Shaffer, Catherine Panico, and Liz Nicoletti were sworn in to the nine member Board of Education in Ocean City, New Jersey.  All three were elected as a team last November, along with local attorney Kevin Barnes who ran separately.

The Board supervises one high school with 1,245 students, one grade 4 to 8 intermediate school with 537 students, and one grade K to 3 elementary school with 299 students.  Students from nearby Upper Township, Longport, and Sea Isle City attend the Ocean City High School.  Click Here For Link To Ocean City, NJ Board of Education Official Web Site:

Shaffer, Panico and Nicoletti all have children in the Ocean City public schools.  For years, they were frustrated with new “progressive” curricula and “student learning standards” (SLS) that used fake history and fake science to indoctrinate students.  Like many parents, they were shocked and outraged when the Ocean City Board of Education adopted new state “student learning standards” that sexualized young children and normalized sexual behavior that many parents find abnormal and dangerous for teenagers. That was done last year after a narrow 6-5 vote by the School Board.  Shaffer, Panico and Nicoletti were also concerned that academic proficiency for Ocean City students had declined during the coronavirus pandemic.

All three lost when they ran in 2021.  However, they persisted and won with large margins last November.

The first Ocean City School Board meeting was mostly ceremonial.  Shaffer, Panico, and Nicoletti took their oaths of office, toether with local attorney Kevin Barnes.  Barnes was also elected last November.  However, he did not campaign with the Shaffer-Panico-Nicoletti slate.  Three voting members from nearby Upper Township also took office.  Upper Township public schools have only grades Kindergarten through Eighth Grade.  Upper Township pays tuition to send their high school students to Ocean City.  As a result, three members of the Upper Township Board of Education also sit on the Ocean City School Board for certain matters pertaining to the high school and the tuition they pay.

Last November, a “progressive” slate of candidates won three seats on the Upper Township School Board.  The immediately replaced the conservative superintendent and began to implement a “woke” agenda there.  They also chose three “progressives” to represent Upper Township on the Ocean City School Board.

After new members were sworn in, the Board began its business meeting by appointing its officers.  Last year’s President Chris Halliday and newly elected Robin Shaffer were nominated to be President of the Board this year.  Halliday won with a 9-3 vote.  All three Upper Township members voted for Halliday.  The Board failed to choose a Vice-President.  Cecelia Gallelli-Keys of Ocean City and Fran Newman of Upper Township each received six votes.  Local attorney Michael Stanton was appointed to serve as the Board’s attorney for another year.

Curt Nath, the Director, Academic Services for the school district then gave a summary of results for academic proficiency tests in various subjects including “ELA” (English Language Arts), that were given to all New Jersey public school students between 2019 and 2022.  According to the NJ Department of Education, those tests measure “student proficiency with grade level skills, knowledge, and concepts that are critical to college and career readiness”.

Before taking office several newly elected Board members expressed concern that Ocean City students performed poorly on those tests.  In his presentation, Nath responded by seeming to suggest that the tests and results were meaningless, and that the tests should not be given in the future.

After this presentation, all twelve Board members and members of the public were invited to make public comments.  Most spoke on behalf of “the LBGTQ Community”.

Above photo:  Kat Trout-Baron speaking during public portion of January 4, 2023 Ocean City School Board Meeting.

Kat Trout-Baron, a 2021 graduate of Ocean City High School from Marmora recited a list of demands that had been delivered to School Superintendent Dr. Matthew Friedman last month.  Those demands included an “Equity Task Force”, a “Gay-Straight Alliance” club at the high school (in addition to the PRISM Club, previously set up for LGBTQ+ students).  They also demanded that LBGTQ students be addressed by their preferred pronouns. Ms. Trout-Baron repeatedly criticized Dr. Friedman for not responding those demands.

Jakob Pender, a former Ocean City High School student also spoke.  At previous meeting, Pender demanded that be allowed to set up a “Gay Straight Alliance” at the high school.  At last week’s meeting, Pender told the three new board members to “follow the code of ethics”.  He implied that Board Members were required by that code to meet his demands of for “the LBGTQ Community”.

Photo of Ocean City High School senior Keely Calloway published by Ocean City School Board Makes LGBTQ Club Official | OCNJ Daily on November 17, 2022. (Image cropped at request of parent who on 1/18/2023 requested us to remove full image of daughter from this post as Keely Calloway is 17 years old.)

Ocean City High School senior Keely Calloway said board members “had to represent everyone in the district, and not just those they agree with” because “LGBTQ people do exist, they will always exist and they will always be here.”

Carolyn Rush, a Sea Isle City resident, said that there are students who go to Ocean City schools “who think negatively of the LGBTQ community”.

Neither Carolyn Rush nor any other speaker gave any specifics of who “thought negatively” of “the LGBTQ community” or why.  None of them suggested that any students, adults, or school employees  Ocean City care what someone with an LGBTQ lifestyle does in his or her private life.

However, when people with that lifestyle organize as an “LGBT Community” and launch well organized political and publicity campaigns to get public funding and other resources to promote and support their personal lifestyles, they should expect political opposition.  That is even more true when members of that community smear their political opponents with lies and personal insults.

Each of the “LGBTQ community” speakers who spoke last week stated or implied “negative” opinions towards anyone who disagreed with them– or did not agree to their demands quick enough.  Besides criticizing Board Members Shaffer, Panico and Nicoletti and the Ocean City citizens who voted for them, they also criticized School Superintendent Dr. Matthew Friedman.  They have every right to do that. America was built on free speech, free thought, and free elections.

Each of the speakers for the “LGBTQ community” seemed to lack basic knowledge, or have completely disregard for those basic American ideas.

Abraham Lincoln often observed that in 1776, America was built on these “sentiments” found in our Declaration of Independence:

“We are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.  Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  To secure these rights, governments are instituted among us, exercising their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

None of the speakers for the “LGBTQ community” in Ocean City even suggested that the  “unalienable rights” rights of anyone in that “community” were denied or threatened in any way.  However, all of them seemed eager to deny those rights to anyone who disagreed with them.

One Ocean City resident, Marie Hayes, put it best:

“(Last November’s school board) election was only about the rights of parents to be involved in their minor children’s education, and nothing else,” Marie Hayes said. “The opponents of parents’ rights speaking tonight are the same people who turned the school board campaign into divisive, hateful and dishonest attacks on the candidates who ultimately won the election in a landslide.”

Marie Hayes then suggested that Ocean City teachers should focus on the Constitution instead of personal pronouns.

It seems that new school board members Shaffer, Panico, and Nicoletti are already improving education for Ocean City students.

Click here for full article posted by Press of Atlantic City on January 4, 2022.

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2 thoughts on “New Pro-Parents School Board Members Begin Work In Ocean City, NJ”

  1. This article is filled with misinformation. The statement Kat made was the direct paper that was sent to Dr. Friedman. This letter was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and word for word on my Facebook page. It includes no demands other than more communication with the superintendent. A gay-straight alliance, an equity task force, and pronouns, are not once mentioned in the letter. These are complete lies. The letter has been posted word for word and Kat’s speech can be watched on YouTube.

    It is also shameful that a student would continue to be named with her age given in this article. Her mother asked that she be REMOVED from this article. You are putting a child’s safety at risk.

    This article has no basis in facts or safety, shame on its author

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