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Frustrated Des Moines Public School parents are calling foul on what they see as hypocrisy from one of the DMPS board members.

According to a Facebook post, Dwana Bradley (vice chair of DMPS board) has “fought” to keep Des Moines students 100 percent virtual “based upon a moral high ground argument” that concerned parents say is affecting students academically, emotionally as well as their opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities.


But then there is an alleged Facebook post from Bradley showing her with her son, who made homecoming court at Grandview Christian.

The concerned parent said:

“This is also Dwana Bradley giving us the big middle finger as she posted pictures in relation to her son who she sends to Grandview Christian, a school that is in compliance with Gov. Reynolds’ school mandates. She, my friends, is a hypocrite and everyone should make this post go viral.”

The parent followed with a post stating that Bradley is intent on leaving her “middle finger” post up, but is deleting any criticisms to her hypocrisy as soon as they are posted.

Attached is the letter one set of concerned parents sent to the DMPS board:

Dear Members of the Board:

My wife and I have sat back and watched the debate rage over whether DMPS should return to a hybrid model or remain 100% virtual. We are in a unique position to evaluate the debate as she is the co-owner of New Horizons Computer Learning Center wherein students are taught virtually every day and I am a litigation attorney that specializes in criminal defense. We both appreciate that the Board is concerned about our children’s well-being and that of the teachers, but also have reached the conclusion that the argument for 100% virtual classes is not considering all the relevant factors as they relate to the health and well-being of our school district.

As the co-owner of New Horizons, with a unique understanding of remote learning, my wife was ready to embrace virtual learning for our children. But, in this short period of time she can tell you that kids do not learn the same way as adults in a virtual setting. She works from home at least three days a week and even at that, our 8th grader has a hard time staying focused on his virtual classes even though she sits next to him, and our sophomore, he is disinterested. However, she still believes some aspect of virtual can be a productive way for these children to learn as well as prepare for future online employment but is firmly against 100% virtual after her observations. I can tell you as a criminal specialist that low-income families are at a very high risk of their children becoming involved in the criminal justice system. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but it can be simplified by saying, kids and young adults need guidance and a faith-based belief system to keep them positively engaged in their communities.

Guidance should come from parents, but when parents work all the time, that guidance is hard to come by. Also, low income families also have a very high number of single parent households which exacerbates the problem. As such, guidance for a large portion of DMPS students comes from teachers, counselors and coaches. They also need faith to keep them motivated. That faith does not have to be religion, even though religion does help. Faith can come from a belief in earning high grades, engaging in extracurricular activities, the knowledge that you will get fed if you go to school and most importantly, the positive peer groups that school allows them to join. Keeping these kids out of school takes away almost all these incentives to remain positive community members. Any criminal defense attorney can tell you that no young child dreams of being a gang banger, thief, or addict. The unfortunate reality is that when these kids are not positively engaged in school, are not getting fed, are not getting positive guidance, and do not have positive peers, their survival instincts kick in and they are forced down a path they never dreamed of taking.

My wife and I have a talented sophomore who ended his Freshman year with a 3.8+ GPA and entered the pre-Covid 2020 triathlon season as the number one youth elite triathlete in the country. He loves competing in cross country, swimming, and track for Roosevelt and was even one of only 6 freshmen to make it to State in cross country last year. You would think that our main motivation for writing this would be to keep him involved in sports, it is not. Our talented, very outgoing, no worries child has had severe bouts of depression over the lack of in person schooling as well as the isolation he is feeling. But even at that, it still isn’t our main concern.

We have evaluated DMPS’s fight with Governor Reynolds and have reached the conclusion that legally there is no way to win. In addition, Governor Reynolds does not need Polk County to get re-elected and standing firm against us will only endear her to her base. We also have evaluated the consequences of DMPS staying non-compliant such as our children having to make up days into the summer.

Our further concern for the school district is the flight of well off families to the suburbs. While others have “fled” we chose to live in the Roosevelt school district. We believe in Roosevelt; we appreciate all that it has to offer with its diversity and strongly believe our children are better off from being part of the Des Moines school district. We have embraced this community and school. What does this mean to DMPS, well, we contribute a large sum of money to inner city youth to ensure they can engage in any extracurricular activity they choose; they just have to allow my wife to monitor their grades, attendance and intervene when necessary. We have large groups of inner-city kids in for breakfast, for dinner, to spend the night which for some turns into days, even weeks. But we make sure they are fed, clothed and attending school. We also purchase equipment for sports teams that otherwise could not be obtained. The Board needs to ask themselves, what happens to our school system when families like ours, who have the means, chose to send our children to the suburban schools? We all know the answer because America’s public-school system has dealt with this problem for decades. This is a real fact because we have already made that decision, if DMPS does not vote to return to a hybrid model we will transfer our students, and we are not the only families committed to this very sad predicament.

In closing, we all make daily decisions that require us to assume certain risks, not only to ourselves, but to others. The concerns laid out by DMPS have already been answered in a large part by what has happened since the return of the suburban schools. My wife and I greatly appreciate your time in listening to everyone’s concerns and understand the tremendous stress you all must be under as you grapple with the moral dilemma that is the Covid era and for that, we thank you all! But we also expect all of you to be willing to compromise and find a solution that may not meet everyone’s needs or concerns but meets everyone in the middle. Let’s set an example for others to follow as we have done in the past at DMPS!


Mr. and Mrs. Van M Plumb

Author: Jacob Hall


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