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As many people know, the activities around the Southeast Polk School Board have been very contentious for the last couple of years. Now I am not saying that anyone is racist. I’m merely going to point out some of my observations from my viewpoint that have occurred over the past couple of years, and you can judge for yourself as to what is going on in the situation at the SEP school board.

But before I can go into the recent details, I want to bring everybody up to date with some history. Whitney Smith McIntosh like many other black Americans started out as a liberal but swallowed a red pill and switched over to the more conservative side. Now the school board is not a partisan election, but this history is kind of important to understand. She was raised like many other black Americans such as Candace Owens, Amala Ekpunobi, Kali Fontanilla, Titus Ellis Smith and many others who were told that the conservatives and Republicans were racist and they would treat her poorly and so on. She has discovered just the opposite, even in parades many white liberals would throw candy at her and yell obscenities. They go onto social media and make up lies, send threatening emails and actual threatening letters. It is difficult to be a person of color and come out as a conservative. It takes a lot of bravery when you look at how they are treated. Historically, when a slave obeyed and thought as told they were well taken care of and treated well, but if they ever thought differently, look out — that was not allowed.

During the school board race in 2021, there were a lot of lies spread, the typical thing in a race by the opposing side and their followers. Social media was a hot spot of course. Many people in the community believed these lies. A local business told Whitney that a sitting board member had gone to them and demanded that they remove Whitney’s campaign signs. Keep in mind, during this race there were several other conservative candidates. Some with stronger conservative convictions than Whitney. The harassment that they received never ever reach the levels that Whitney Smith McIntosh had received. Was it because they were white? Or Men? Society doesn’t burn crosses in people’s yards anymore, but they sure will go to social media and do all they can to burn a person’s reputation.

Even after her appointment on the school board, several individuals would come to school board meetings and during the public open forum would take their perceived ideas and spew false accusations towards Whitney Smith McIntosh. None of this had anything to do with an agenda item, a topic coming up, or even past votes; they took perceived beliefs that somehow Whitney Smith McIntosh was going to be detrimental to students and ranted. Look at this picture below, it has 2 school board members (Lori Slings the new president of board and Brigid Ernst) along with the wife of the previous board president. Just think what it would be like to sit on the board next to these board members while their friends come up every board meeting and repeat their rants. Think this builds an atmosphere of working together between board members?

Now I can understand freedom of speech and allowing these people to come and speak. I think that’s a good thing, but I hope the board president and future presidents will continue to have this open-door policy when other individuals do the same thing but then target other board members and not just Whitney Smith McIntosh. I do not think it is right for people to come up and make false accusations from falsely perceived ideas, but I respect the need for freedom of speech. I make this point though, not because of the issue of speech, but more so, for the reader of this article to understand that the board members were in full knowledge of the attacks Whitney was getting at every school board meeting.

Also, during the campaign and the year following after the election social media was filled with individuals going to Whitney’s page taking things out of context posting them on other pages with perverted twisted ideas of what they meant. All with intent of harming her reputation, they even went as far as accusing her of not even being a veteran and that she was lying about her veteran status. For over two years Whitney has had to put up with these attacks. And some of the board members were critical of Whitney and did not seem to stand up for her as a valued member of the board. But they were also very aware of these online attacks.

The board had a workshop with the intention to build unity and learn how to develop better working relationships between themselves. Seems a good goal, right? From this workshop a set of principles was developed. But at the end of the meeting, it was announced that these principles were going to be voted on and made public. You could argue that should have been disclosed at the beginning of the workshop and was going to be handled in this manner. However, Whitney after experiencing the lack of support from the board and the attacks from certain members of the community she expressed her concern about this just being another tool to be used against board members. 

You would think that during a workshop, these constant attacks on Whitney would be addressed. At the very least, the board members who had their associates coming to the meetings and ranting about Whitney would say something to do the very thing they claimed they were trying to accomplish. Of course, that never happened. You would think starting with a clean slate would be the best way to build unity and a good work environment. 

At the first public meeting to discuss these principles Whitney expressed her concerns again and during that discussion a board member (Brett Handy) stated that they couldn’t really hold anybody accountable because there wasn’t going to be any lynching (yes he used this word). Keep in mind everything Whitney had experienced in the past 2 years, and to then say that. That was offensive at multiple levels. What it communicated to me is that board member pretty much just blew off her concerns for this being a tool being used against the board. The same school board member made it also clear that he felt the board should be open to the public. We will come back to that issue later.

Whitney in private pointed out that the lynching comment was offensive to her, to the public, and other people of color in the community. This could have been handled with a simple I made a mistake, and I did not mean to insult anyone, type apology. Yet, no apology came. One of the main tenants of the principles was to hold one another accountable. The lack of follow up seems to only demonstrate that the tool was meant to be used against “A” member of the board at this point. And in true fashion, when Whitney voted no to the principles, the Des Moines Register did an article, but they never asked Whitney why she voted the way she did. This article is the other side of that story.

Because of the lack of action by the acting school board president (Chad Crabb), I drafted a letter that was then e-mailed to the board president asking him to address this issue and a few other issues. I also explained that it should be done in public because comment was made in public. In addition, the very board member who made the offensive comment said everything should be done in the open. 

The other issues in that letter were issues related to the rants by friends of board members, not the rants themselves, but under these new guiding principles of working together, that these board members need to address this for a sake of a better working relationship. The other issue in the letter was regarding how the board was critical of Whitney’s political involvement. Whitney never used her position as a school board member (non-partisan position) to help benefit a partisan candidate. Did she volunteer her time, yes. Did she endorse candidates yes, as a person and as a veteran, but not as a board member.  However, several board members this election season are using their positions on school board to endorse and help partisan candidates win. See below, notice how Whitney’s official endorsement never included her position as a school board member. But then look at the other 3 school board members. The hypocrisy is in the board members being critical of Whitney’s political involvement and then for them to use their positions to support partisan candidates.

The short declining response to address these issues was:

“The purpose of our operating principles is to find a path forward together for the best interest of students, not to look backwards and try to find any evidence of perceived past transgressions. I’m hopeful that we will become a better team and governing body by embracing these commitments.”

“Not to look backwards and try and find evidence of perceived past transgressions“. So, what is the point of the principles document if he gets to decide on what is a transgression? Second, it is insulting to say the least to disqualify Whitney’s offense to “perceived”. The evidence is recorded on YouTube for anyone to go watch and hear for themselves. 

Now what this demonstrates to me is it the board president doesn’t value Whitney’s concerns. To me, it shows a lack of respect for her position on the school board. And it makes the whole principles document of holding one another accountable and working together mute and offensive itself if it is only applied selectively and he can decide who is and isn’t allowed to be offended. To me, it is just another white person telling a black person how they should think and what should offend them or not. What should have been a simple matter with a simple apology has now grown into something far more concerning. You’ll just have to decide for yourself what kind of thinking is behind this kind of response. Because of his response, I felt compelled to create 2 petitions. Under Iowa law, the community can now petition the school board to address concerns. 

You cannot have a set of principles if it is subjective and controlled by one individual.  To me this just goes further to demonstrate that the guiding principles was not meant to hold the entire board accountable but to attempt to hold a conservative board member accountable to the subjective policies created by the liberal-oriented board members. A leader needs to show concern for all members and listen and take their viewpoints into consideration. A poor leader are the ones the lord over the other members. Mr. Crabb is now seeking to be the Director of District #5 of the Iowa Association of School Boards and I have high concerns he is even qualified to be the board president based on his way of handling this situation. On November 3rd, the board had their annual election cycle and elected a new president and vice president after all this occurred, however the new President is Lori Slings, does anyone think this will make it better?

You can look at the whole history ask yourself what’s the motivation here. If Whitney was still a liberal and she was being harassed in the same manner, what do you think they would say is going on?

Please review the following petitions and please sign if you are a voting member of the Southeast Polk School District:

Petition to address the offensive comment and actions of the board president: (https://forms.gle/UQ4vSFFh5S9ytVru9) 

Petition to address board members using their nonpartisan board position to assist partisan candidates win their elections: (https://forms.gle/vbAFrM6PR7RW4Kbf7)

Also feel free to let the school board members know that their actions are visible to the public. Do not engage in offensive conduct. Share your opinions in a respectful manner only. Whitney Smith McIntosh is not the originator of any of this. In many ways, she would prefer I not get involved. But it’s been 2 years of this and it continues to escalate. It’s time they address this biased and hypocritical behavior.

Board Member Emails:

[email protected]  (Former President) (Board Member now as of Nov. 3)

[email protected] (Former Vice President) (President as of Nov. 3)

[email protected] (Board Member)

[email protected] (Board Member)

[email protected] (Board Member)

[email protected] (Board Member) (New Vice President as of Nov. 3)

[email protected] (Board Member)

If you have any questions about Mr. Crabb serving on the Iowa Association of School Boards, here is the contact person.   Stephanie Rousseau  email: [email protected]

Author: Rick McIntosh



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