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West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Barbara Fuller-Jefferson County WV Board of Education Candidate

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Welcome to this addition of the Richard Urban Show where we present news and views from God’s point of view.  Today, May 30, we have on Barbara Fuller. She’s running for the Board of Education here in Jefferson County. So please introduce yourself.

“Thank you so much for having me. My name is Barbara Fuller and I am a wife of a retired Air Force Tech Sergeant. We moved to Jefferson County in 2007 when my husband retired from over 22 years of active service. With me we brought four children, three that were in Jefferson County schools, one who had graduated early from high school. We chose Jefferson County, due to the vast history that it has to offer. I was a history major in college, and I grew up just loving history and anything that has to do with it,” Fuller said.

“I am running for the Board of Education because of my experience that I’ve had personally with the Jefferson County Board of Education. More in-depth. Basically, I have three children that were in, are in Jefferson County schools. One is gifted sports kid, one is the kid that fell through the cracks and has an IEP, so he has a couple of difficulties. And then I have my last, who is just, there’s no way to describe her. She doesn’t fit anywhere. She’s a little bit of everything. My experience with the school system is that not everybody’s treated fairly, not everybody is treated the same. I’ve had my son, who has an IEP. The school felt that, when he was in grade school, felt that it was appropriate to IEP the other two children. Without my knowledge, without my approval. Yeah, for reasons that I’m not even sure. One didn’t want to write sentences about flowers. He was five years old or six years old and all he cared about was super heroes, so he didn’t fit what they wanted him to do. So, he now has a speech problem because he can’t write about a flower.” Fuller continued.

“We switched schools. Fortunately, he was a student at North Jeff and they were having their issues. So we were allowed to switch them. Once he went over and at Shepherdstown Elementary he was able to bloom and they were like, “Why does he and IEP?”  “I don’t know”. I have a huge want to make sure that parents know why their children are IEPed, the things that are available to them. Because it was more like baptism by fire, and it shouldn’t have to be. You shouldn’t have to cry yourself to sleep at night. Wondering if your child’s getting everything that’s available to them,” Fuller added.

Richard: Okay, so we’re talking about special education. What kind of specific changes would you advocate? And also, so you were saying they gave your kids an IEP, and the other side of the coin is if parents want, in your experience or knowledge, in Jefferson public schools that parents want their child, like evaluated, is it done timely? I guess, those are different angles of the same question.

“Well, for my oldest son, who had his IEP, he needed it. There’s no if, ands or buts, but he needed it. It was good for him. The others, I don’t know what their thinking was, but all I could think of was that they were looking for a little extra money for their school, because apparently you get more reserve, or more funds for being a Title 1 school if you have more children that need,” Fuller answered.

Richard: Wouldn’t they ask the parent? Did they say ‘What do you think?’, or they just kind of said we’re going to do this?

“Well, they actually asked me, and they sent a meeting request and I didn’t get it on time, and I didn’t sign it and return it. They had the meeting without me,” Fuller said.

“So you have to be able to advocate for your own but when you don’t have the time and the energy to advocate, you really do need somebody to step in. And that’s what I would love to see in the school system. I would love to see professionals, that what they do is they handle a wide range of IEPs, whether it be for behavioral or whether it be for learning or both, because that does happen, then they can read the IEPs, sit down with the parents and let them know everything that’s available to them. Because teachers don’t always have that time to spend with a parent explaining that. I remember some of the meetings that we would have would only be 10-15 minutes, maybe sometimes a little bit longer,” Fuller added.

“And a lot of times that the process is a lot longer and you have a little bit more thrown at you, you’re having a lot of things thrown at you at once and you don’t have time to really read and process and understand and when that happens, you can’t go back after the fact and say but I don’t understand this. They ask you right there and then do you understand and you’re usually you’re just in a state of, whatever, because you’re not understanding everything that’s put in front of you. So I would love to see lay people, come in – other parents, professionals – who can explain the process, explain things that are available to kids. I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails on my campaign page that the parents have asked and asked and asked for services and they’re overlooked. Your son doesn’t, your son or daughter, does not qualify. Well, why? Tell me why there could be a host of reasons it could be. They don’t have the right tools. I know that West Virginia does not acknowledge dyslexia and it’s a huge problem,” Fuller said.

“Why not acknowledged dyslexia? It’s a real life thing and kids look at things, backwards, don’t classify it as something else. That is the nut and bolts of why I wanted to run. The secondary, is in the past year and a half, we’ve seen our taxpayer funds, in the school system, being used to fund lawsuits to, well, to make Rockwell go away. Whether I feel Rockwell is good or bad, is not the reason why I’m running. The reason I’m running is because those funds should never have been used for anything other than educating our children, and they’re crumbling, our schools are crumbling,” Fuller added.

“We need someone who has – and I’ve worked with banks. I’ve worked and had my own leasing company, basically I would broker leases for equipment, so I can read financials, I can do all that fun stuff, I’m conservative, so I don’t like to spend money and if I do, I’m going to get the best deal I possibly can,” Fuller continued.

Richard: I guess it would, maybe in a video or on your site, your Facebook , about was superintendent getting a good value for what they’re doing what you’re doing and also the spending on the lawsuit like you said?

“It’s one of my pet peeves. When we were an active duty family, we were a family of six. Having to live on, what is it, 30-something thousand a year. If we have as humans have to live within our means our schools should live within our means and learn how to invest in the children’s future, whether it’s applying for grants, if we need to hire a grant writer, I think that’s money well spent. If you can get grant money, free money. We all like free money,” Fuller responded.

Yeah, that’s a good thing, Well, another issue something that’s dear to my heart. Our non-profit works to the issue of sexual health education, specifically abstinence centered, and educating youth. Would you support an approach to sexual health education that emphasizes as a standard for school-age children staying abstinent from sex before marriage? That’s the Title 5 standard that’s been around for a couple of decades. Do you think that’s a good idea or a bad idea?

“I’m a Roman Catholic, so that is basically ingrained into my being. Does it always happen? No, it doesn’t for various reasons of why, but when I explain it to my kids that everything that you could possibly dream for can come to an end, if the end result is an unplanned pregnancy, that’s something really, really that hits home to them. And that would be my goal is to explain to kids that you might want to be Joe track star, but if you’re going to have premarital sex, you could throw that all away,” Fuller said.

“I would not have a problem teaching abstinence because with anything there’s emotional baggage that comes along with it, and that’s what the kids don’t get and they’re not old enough to understand it, “Fuller added.

Richard: What should be the goal of schools? I think I saw some things referenced on some of your materials like some children might want to go to college, but others could be vocational and then there’s an issue, like we were just talking about, of the character education. So is a goal, more that they could have a good job, they’d be a good citizen, a various combination of these things?

“I see no reason why you can’t have a combination, you can have a job and be a good citizen, pay it back to your community. I would love to see vocational – not all kids go to college. My husband didn’t go to college, he went straight into the military. The military is a job, it is a job. It teaches you skills, which then, if you serve long enough you can start your new job after that. You cannot discount colleges, you cannot discount vocationals, you cannot discount military. They are all useful in our society,” Fuller said.

Richard: One thing you were mentioning in some of your testimony or materials online that you spent a lot of time in the school with your children. Anyway, on the issue, somewhat related issue of maybe, school community relations. Could there be some improvement made?, or I guess what I’m trying to say is, how is it, like if a parent wants to volunteer, like you mentioned, you volunteered a lot? Anyway, would you have any ideas for improving that or, how is the relationship with the school community? If I’m making sense.

”It makes perfect sense. I was kind of thrown into it. So my son, who is the jock, smart jock, he was diagnosed at five years old with Legg–Calvé–Perthes disease, which is a degenerative hip condition where your femoral head dies,” Fuller responded.

“But I needed a 504 plan for someone to make sure that he did not run and jump in school because it’s painful and he’s five. They were not able to do that. They said if you want to make sure your son does not run and jump, you’re going to have to be here. So that threw me in to being on the playground every day meeting the teachers asking the teachers what you need done,” Fuller added.

Richard” So I know you’re running against several other people for the Board of Education. How would you contrast or differentiate yourself? Why should the voters give you one of their three votes there?

“I apparently am the only one who’s not running because of Rockwell. Apparently everybody else from what I’ve been told, is running because I am not to get on because I’ve been very active in that. I don’t really care if Rockwell comes here, so I’m just bad because I’m not a green coalition-type of person, I do recycle. My furniture is recycled, I drive a hybrid, but I am not about to scream that there is climate control and that my water is going to be poisoned so I don’t fit their mold. Like I said, I’m not running because of Rockwell. I have no ulterior motives, other than to make sure that our teachers get paid fairly, our parents are able to understand special education programs and to get a budget working that we are not screaming, and wondering why are heating systems don’t work, because we can’t pay to get them maintained,” Fuller responded.

Richard: I think that pretty well covers a lot of things. I’d just like to ask if you have anything else on your heart you’d like to emphasize as the voters are, we’re, considering who to vote for on June 9th. Any final closing thoughts?

“I would love for people to give me the chance, I have the time.  Anything that I do now, I volunteer. I don’t have a paid job, so I have the time and the energy to spend working hours and hours to make our kids have successful schooling and make the education the best that we can possibly have,” Fuller said.

Richard: One more thing. With the disruption of the whole COVID-19 situation, with schools being closed, and coming back to school, I noticed, which I thought was very strange too, the CDC said that children are suggested to wear a mask if they’re over 2. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, what are they talking about?’ do you have any opinion about that?

“It’s almost like my son at five years old, not running and jumping in school. I don’t think that they will be able to keep masks on the children. Do I think that we need to practice washing hands, and sanitizing or wiping down desks? Well, in my estimation, I remember doing that with the kids when they were in first grade, in kindergarten God, almost 12 years ago. So, I mean do we need maybe step it up a little bit? Yeah, maybe sure, if you go out to the bathroom, maybe make sure that the kids sanitize their hands before they come into the class in case they did not wash properly. Do I think that the option of either going to school or staying home and learning in a situation like this, I’m for school of choice. Also, if you want to homeschool your kid and I have no problems with that. Not all children learn the same, so if it’s better for them to stay home, let’s make it so that they can do it from home. Let’s give them everything that they need.

Richard: Alright, well, thank you again for coming on today, and we’ll get this up on video. Please do vote. We will be electing our school board and also three Supreme Court justices. They’ll be the final election and of course, other positions as well, all the primaries and magistrates. So, be sure to vote. Thank you again for coming on.

 “Thank you so much for having me,” Fuller said.

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