Candidate forum helps educate public on School Committee contenders

Mar 21, 2023

Voters heard from all five candidates in the race to fill two open School Committee seats during a Candidates Forum sponsored by Dartmouth Community Media, Dartmouth Week, and WBSM.

The forum, which was held March 21 at Town Hall, covered a multitude of topics. All candidates made points about improving mental health resources for students in Dartmouth public schools, citing it as a main weakness in the district. 

All candidates agreed that teachers and staff are the greatest strength of Dartmouth schools. 

Not all topics were as unanimous. Troy Tufano received applause after stating his firm opinion about banning books. 

“I support the librarians like I would support a teacher to develop their curriculum,” said Tufano. “I am completely defiant [against] ever banning a book. Books should never be banned. Books should never be taken off the shelves and books should never be discontinued.”  

Elizabeth “Bess’’ Coughlin trusts the librarians with the understanding they will not put books that include “discriminatory or overly biased demeaning generalizations, stereotyping based on race, sex, identity, ethnicity” in school libraries or classrooms.

Candidates braced themselves when asked who they would vote for. 

Incumbent Kathleen Amaral stated she wouldn't support “anyone that does not believe in quality education for all and diversity equality and inclusion, it’s personal to me on a multitude of levels.”

Amaral prides herself on her understanding and commitment to students of all needs.  

It was made clear that she does not share many viewpoints with Lynne Turner, saying, “I have had some difficulties with Ms. Turner [previously], just because of some of her views, not because of her as a person.”

Turner was pro-parent’s choice in many of her statements during the forum, comparing “hard” class content to movie ratings being “PG or R,” which she believed parents should be aware of with the option to opt their child out. 

Erica Morency agreed that parents should be able to choose to withhold particular topics from their children such as reproductive education. 

The panel also discussed the addition of more “non-academic” classes, the importance of the MCAS test, their involvement in the community and more. 

The election will be held on Tuesday, April 4. The final day to register to vote in the election is Saturday, March 25. To view the forum, click here.