Concord School Board Zone A: Candidates clash on policy, inclusivity

Michael Guglielmo

Michael Guglielmo

Concord School District Building

Concord School District Building Courtesy

 Jessica Campbell is running for the school board seat in Zone A representing wards 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Jessica Campbell is running for the school board seat in Zone A representing wards 1, 2, 3, and 4. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor Staff

Published: 10-28-2023 4:32 PM

Modified: 10-28-2023 4:47 PM


Three years ago, Jessica Campbell and her husband moved to Concord and enrolled their child at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Concord – a journey that she said has been filled with warmth and support from the school district.

Michael Guglielmo has had the opposite experience, saying the school district’s policies about gender identity and teacher attire are harming students, especially at the elementary school level.

The pair are running for a seat on the Concord School Board seat in Zone A representing wards 1, 2, 3 and 4, giving residents a contrasting choice on election day. Nov. 7.

Campbell said she’s committed to preserving the district’s safety and inclusivity.

“It is absolutely my priority to make sure that we have a safe, healthy, welcoming district for everybody that is here and also making sure that our taxpayers aren’t feeling the burden too much,” said Campbell.

Fellow parent Guglielmo said he is focused on preventing what he sees as the premature sexualization of students in schools. Guglielmo, a convicted felon who served time in prison for shooting at police, gained notoriety last spring when he dressed up like Julius Caesar to protest against the school district’s lack of policies against cross-dressing teachers, which he said promotes gender confusion.

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“Let kids be kids,” Guglielmo said in an interview. “We parents will love them however they decide to identify when they come to self-actualization.”

Last school year, Guglielmo confronted a male art teacher at the Christa McAuliffe School who was wearing a dress. The teacher took out a restraining order against Guglielmo, saying he was fearful for his safety, which was later dropped.

The race for the seat has two other candidates on the ballot – Robert Avery and Kristen Jackson. Avery has withdrawn from the race, and Jackson has not replied to the Monitor’s attempts to contact her.

Campbell and Guglielmo hold contrasting views on parental rights regarding access to materials concerning gender identity and sexual orientation.

“We’re here to represent every single student, and if we start taking away resources or books or start making some things seem negative, what are we teaching our kids?” Campbell said at a community forum last week.

Guglielmo, who did not participate in the forum, said in an interview he is completely opposed to the idea. He said parents are withdrawing their children from Concord schools and enrolling them in charter or home schools due to the inclusion of gender policies and critical race theory, a trend he said that must be investigated.

“Biology is quite simple. There are boys, and there are girls,” said Gugliemo.

Campbell, while acknowledging the school district’s existing efforts to teach civics, believes there’s room for improvement by introducing financial literacy into the curriculum.

“We’re all passionate about inclusion, diversity, equity, but we need financial literacy to help people understand the basics so they can start stepping out so they can start learning,” explained Campbell.

Guglielmo said civic readiness is important to empower students as independent thinkers and self-sufficient individuals.

Campbell said she values transparency between the school district, the community and parents.

“Transparency is absolutely crucial no matter what,” said Campbell. “If we don’t do that, then we can’t make educated decisions, we can’t find out what our community wants, the taxpayers want, we won’t hear from people.”

Guglielmo agreed.

A video of the Concord Monitor’s school candidate forum can be watched online.