Thursday, July 30, 2020

School board president stripped of office

Matthew Wilk 
Matthew Wilk is no longer the president of the Northville Public Schools Board of Education.
Members of the board voted last week to remove him from that office and to censure him in response to Facebook posts he made downplaying the coronavirus and claiming the COVID-10 pandemic is a hoax. In one of those posts, Wilk said the coronavirus “only exists in falsified statistics shouted on the news without context.” That post was removed when rampant criticism of Wilk and correction of the misinformation was posted by numerous Northville school district parents. In another post, Wilk said, “Why don't we allow schools to reopen and grandma can take the extreme precautions? She can wear a spacesuit when she 'need' to go out and shop and the rest of the world can go on about the lives…”

More than 4,000 residents signed a petition demanding Wilk's removal as the president of the school board.
In a statement following the furor his comments created, Wilk said, “I probably should have followed my kids' own rules to on the internet: everything you say will be twisted, misconstrued and taken out of context. It's just the way things are in 2020. I've been the staunchest proponent of getting our kids back in school in the fall. Even the Governor thinks it can be done safely. I think the offense really ought to be directed at the ideas, not the messenger. I thank the hundreds of parents who sent me messages of support.”
Members of the board met and heard public comment on the situation on both Monday and Tuesday night last week. Wilk was removed from his position as president and censured during the Tuesday meeting.
Wilk's elected term on the board expires this year and he is expected to be on the ballot in November. He chaired the virtual meeting of the board members on Monday. He said during that meeting that his views are his own.
Several parents responded to his posts, however, many highly critical of his opinions.
One parent posted, One parent said that his leadership role in the district requires that he be held to a different standard of conduct.
“As others have mentioned, this is not only incorrect, it is also incredibly harmful and potentially dangerous to the community at large,” said a Northville alumni.
Another was more supportive, stating, “He has the right to his opinion. And me personally? I think kids should go back to school, full time. And as a single working mom I need my kids to go to school,” said one Northville parent during the Monday meeting.
“I think he's an upstanding individual and I don't see him anywhere off that board. If you wanted to give a censure I understand that because your opinions matter and they are quite valid. But to move him out of that position in a crisis time like this I think that would be a short-sighted decision,” said another resident who commented during the virtual meeting Monday.