The Olentangy Local School District’s Board of Education will have two seats up for grabs in the November election. This week, Jennifer Feucht announced in a press release that she will be running for one of those seats, marking the first to announce their candidacy.
A 20-year resident of Delaware County, Feucht currently lives in Lewis Center with her husband and two children, both of whom have been or currently are students in the district. Feucht graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and works as the marketing and content creator for ELK Promotions in Sunbury. Outside of work, Feucht said she dedicates much of her spare time to volunteering efforts within the district.
“I’ve always been involved with the district from a volunteer standpoint,” Feucht said. “I’ve been an active volunteer with our PTOs, I’ve served as a boy scout leader for four years with our local Simon Kenton council. So, I’ve always had an active role at the student level, working side by side with the children themselves.”
Asked what led her to want to take on an added role within the district, Feucht told the Gazette, “What led me to want to step up to more of an administrative role was, really, our experience just this past year. Everything we went through with COVID, it basically opened my eyes to some areas that need a little work.”
Feucht acknowledged the district has done “a phenomenal job” of living up to its mission of offering maximum learning to every student. However, after being forced to work from home during the pandemic, Feucht said she was able to “take a closer look under the hood at what was actually being taught” while her children were attending school virtually.
Feucht said COVID “shined a spotlight on some need areas,” but when she took those concerns to district leadership, she was assured all students’ needs were being met, a statement with which she did not agree after speaking with other parents in the district.
“I think the biggest (need area) that percolated to the top was math,” Feucht said. “A lot of the kids from fifth grade up through high school needed some additional math help. … There were a lot of needs not being met. When I took this concern to our leadership at the school, I guess they understood it, but they were spending all of their efforts with the professional development days to push the equity and inclusion agenda. Really for me, that was it. That’s what put the fires under me to run.”
Feucht said she wasn’t against the district’s efforts to roll out the equity and inclusion program, but she didn’t understand why it was the emphasis at a time when students were suffering through a difficult period of attempted learning. Feucht said she noticed a lot of inconsistencies from school to school during the pandemic, and she felt the professional development days could have been better utilized to compare best practices to aid students in maximizing their learning while at home.
“I just felt the timing was off (for the equity and inclusion program). I felt it didn’t fall in line with our mission of offering maximum learning for every student, and I just questioned whether or not the board truly understood what our students were going through in the home during the pandemic,” Feucht said. “It felt like there was a huge, huge disconnect, so that’s when I began talking with other parents and wanted to know what were some of their concerns. And that was like opening Pandora’s box. … I did not realize the amount of concern that was out there, and I’ve always been one that wants to stand up for the kids and always make sure that we put our kiddos first in whatever we do. I felt like the direction the board was going in was failing to offer that.”
Feucht’s hope is that she can “bridge the gap” to erase the disconnect she feels exist between the district, parents and students. That she has had one child graduate this past spring and another still in middle school will help Feucht to bring a parent’s point of view to the board, she said, stating, “I still have some skin in the game.”
Feucht said that since students have returned to the normal school structure, some of the concerns related to COVID and at-home learning have taken care of themselves. However, Feucht said she believes the disconnect has moved to other areas in the district, including the teaching of critical race theory in schools.
“I think there is still a need right now to have a parent’s voice, a parent’s feedback, and a point person speaking in that position that has worked side by side with students,” Feucht said. “I feel like, at the end of the day, all these decisions that are made, they’re not always made with the student alone in mind. They’re made with a whole bunch of things in mind, including students, but everything needs to boil down to the students being first.”
Speaking specifically on critical race theory, Feucht stated, “I believe it is a divisive agenda that does not serve a good purpose for any of our students.”
Feucht pointed out critical race theory is not taught in the district, nor has it ever been approved to be taught. However, she said teachers within the district are free to create their own curriculum so long as it meets the state standards. Because of that, she believes some teachers have “gone rogue” and chosen to include “items that fall under the umbrella of critical race theory.”
Feucht said she hopes to be the leadership on the board that makes it clear the district does not endorse critical race theory, nor will it find its way into classrooms around the district.
Another issue Feucht wants to address if elected is “respecting parental rights,” she said.
“I firmly believe that a parent deserves to be the biggest influence in their child’s life,” Feucht said. “I want to teach my child, at home, what our family believes in terms of our morals and our values. And then I want to send my child to school to learn math, English, history, social studies, etc. I don’t expect teachers to be their parents; I want to be their parent.”
For more information about Feucht and her campaign, visit her website at www.votejenniferforolsd.com.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.