The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution – Part I

The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution – Part I of V

By: Todd Bartley

In what can only be characterized as a race to finish first in local wokeness; the following is the first in a series dedicated to uncovering the deliberations which occurred within the Williamsport Area School District school board members and administration in the days leading up to the release of the “Anti-Racism Resolution.”

The exclusive information contained in these reports was garnered through the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law from the Williamsport Area School District by

From the unredacted information obtained by; WASD board member Jennifer Lake first broached the topic with fellow board members and WASD Superintendent Timothy Bowers on June 11, 2020.

What follows are the deliberations in chronological order and the parties noted in their own words.


On June 11, 2020, 7:31 PM Jennifer Lake (REDACTED) wrote:

“Hello Board, 

On Monday, I took a call from a district parent who brought to my attention the picture that the Sun Gazette used on the front page to highlight Williamsport’s Graduation. Unfortunately, the image the Sun Gazette chose to use of the vehicle included a political slogan written on the poster on the front of the vehicle. I have no idea if the editor realized it was there or not, or how it affected others saw the picture. I only know how it affected the parent that called me and those in her sphere of influence.”

EDITOR’S NOTES: has been unable to identify the “district parent” noted above. Additionally, the photo eluded to has been obtained by The sign reads as follows:




Lake continued:

“This parent brought to light their disappointment that for a district like WASD with a large minority population of students (I think it’s about 36%???) we have not put any statement on our website in response to the recent racial injustices happening around the country. I admitted to her that my mind had been on graduation and then recovering from all the graduation festivities that I had not even thought about it.”

This parent pointed me to many districts across the country that have put out public statements acknowledging the horrific deaths of those like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd (among others) and acknowledging a country wrestling with issues of prejudice and racial discrimination. I have read a lot of these statements and I will provide links to them below.

I, for one, would like to see us put out a statement simply acknowledging the times we are in and offering a statement of support of all students as as well as our commitment to do our part as a school district to continue to examine and eliminate institutional beliefs, policies, practices and teaching that perpetuate racial disparities in achievement.

I’m writing to request we do this wondering what you all think. This isn’t political. This isn’t in support of or against Black Lives Matter. This is about our student population and doing our part to respond to the hurt. Here are some resources to read. Please let me know your thoughts.”

CHSD 218 Officials Send ‘Black Lives Matter” Letter to Families

“We want to say with emphasis: “Black Lives Matter,” Dist, 218 officials say in letter to parents”

‘A turning point’: California education leaders speak out about racism and police brutality”

“This current crisis must be more tan a teachable moment; it must lead to real change, education leaders say”

“West Chester Area School District Statement on Racial Injustice – MyChesCo”

“WEST CHESTER, PA — Dr. Jim Scanlon, Superintendent of the West Chester Area School District, released the following statement on racial injustice:”

Jennifer Lake, PCC

Dwell Orphan Care, Executive Director



On June 11, 2020, 3:31 PM Nancy Somers (REDACTED) wrote:

“I was equally disappointed in the Sun Gazette choice of picture for graduation coverage. Cynic that I am, I assumed it was a purposeful choice by the editors.

I would love to see us put out a statement in favor of racial equality. Perhaps we could include information about the number of our teachers and staff who participated in the Walk for Peace. Nancy”

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID


From the cell phone text records of Dr. Timothy Bowers on Thursday, June 11, 2020, either 6:03 PM or 8:03 PM

Timothy Bowers to Jane Penman and Lori Baer:

“Hi Jane and Lori we now have two board members pushing me to release some sort of statement about the civil unrest that is occurring. I am not sure that’s a good idea right now sometimes it’s more important to be silent and listen then put out a statement inviting opinion. If we were in session and dealing with unrest within our buildings I would feel differently. What are your thoughts??”

In a text message reply attributed and identified as being from Jane Penman:

“Unfortunately, In my opinion, it’s tough to separate this issue from politics. Obviously, it’s not our place to release a political statement, however, if the statement is directed (illegible) limited to just supporting (illegible) students and staff, it would be okay. Also, I don’t see this as a press release, but rather a statement on our website. Is that what you were thinking? Or are you thinking of a press release. Also, don’t we already have an anti discrimination statement?”

Bowers responds to Jane Penman:

“Definitely not a press release. If anything something simple on our webpage. Yes we have anti discrimination statements on almost everything we do.”

Bowers supplements his response to Jane Penman:

“In my opinion our actions are more impotent than our words. We rearranged last Friday’s professional development plans just so our faculty, staff and administrators good participate in the walk. We did not require our employees to register so we don’t know for sure ow many people participated but I saw several there.”

In a text message reply attributed and identified as being from Lori Baer, she states:

“So could it appear on our website as Nancy suggested with a short informative piece about district participation in the walk?”

Penman in a subsequent text:

“You are right, the participation in the walk speaks louder than a philosophical statement.”

Bowers answers:

“Maybe. I will play with that idea tomorrow. Hard to focus on that right now with Greg leaving us and trying to get graduation and retirement videos done. We are also trying to finish up building several surveys to collect data so we can build this crazy health and safety plan both for overall school districts and specifically for athletics. These plans are unbelievable and some of the guidelines will be impossible to follow.”

Editor’s Note: “Greg” is Greg Hayes, Director of Public Relations/WASD Education Foundation


Lori Baer chimes in with the following:

“Sorry I am late to the conversation. I agree we should not do a press release. I do not know what Nancy recommendation but did see Jenna email. I feel we need to be non political and sensitive to our minorities along with not making it about our police. A fine line for sure!”

Penman responds:

“I don’t envy you. Thanks for providing great leadership through this difficult time and situations.”

Baer responds:

“I echo Janes sentiments… thank you!!!

Bowers answers both Baer and Penman:

“Thank you. I appreciate the support you both provide me. It’s very comforting to know you are both always willing to talk through these tricky decisions. I think next year is going to be challenging for sure. We will need a solid plan that our community will support but I am confident we can do that!!”


On Wed, June 12, 2020, 1:38 PM Barbara Reeves (REDACTED) wrote:

“Thank you Dr. Bowers for sharing that information. This is a rough one for me. While the statement will not be in support of Black Lives Matter, I hope we can all agree that black lives matter!!! I am not attempting to cause a debate or to insinuate in any way all lives do not matter, because they do. We are all created equally by the Creator. This is just a time that people of color need the world to acknowledge that they value their lives. This is especially true for colleagues, friends and acquaintances. My husband and I have had to sit at our table and have “the talk” with our son; not about sex but about what to do (and not do) if you are stopped by a police officer. We’ve told him, these are your rights. However, at the end of the day, we want you to come home. He has recently shared more stories of all the times he’s been stopped while in school at U Albany for stupid infractions. He just shared how he was told by certain young ladies in middle school and high school that they weren’t allowed to like him because of what their parents said. This is heartbreaking. He’s always been a well-rounded kid, honor roll, star athlete, and just a flat out gentleman. Yet, young Caucasian girls were taught that he’s not good enough because of the color of his skin!

Fast forward: I now have a grandson that is due to be born in the next 2 weeks. His father is white and admits that he is clueless concerning what his son will face while growing up. As much as we say racism does not exist, we must admit that it does. Then we must check our own hearts. Right now, if we do nothing or remain quiet, we contribute to the agenda. It’s not enough to have a black friend or a black coworker.

What have you done to support their cause?

We are talking about a people who were considered as 3/5 of a person.

How long should it take to gain the respect of the other 2/5 that makes a whole.

It’s not enough to be colorblind because that means that you do not see me! I heard a man say, we must be like a salad , not a melting pot. You can distinguish between the lettuce, the carrots, the cucumber, and the tomato. What kind of salad would it be if there was only lettuce? I wouldn’t that.

For those of you who read to the end, thanks for your time. Dr. Bowers, we are behind the 8-ball on this one. We must put out a statement that is heartfelt and not simply political, as you’ve stated.


Barb Reeves”

Sent from my iPhone


On June 12, 2020, 6:44 PM

From: Barbara Reeves (REDACTED)

To: Nancy Somers (REDACTED)

Cc: Jenn L. Lake (REDACTED); Fred A. Holland <> (WASD Solicitor); Lori Baer <>; Star Poole <>; Timothy Bowers <> (WASD Superintendent); Adam Welteroth <>; Jane Penman <>; Marc Schefsky>; Patrick Dixon <>; Susie Bigger <>; Nancy Somers <>; Barbara Reeves <>

Subject: Statement from WASD regarding recent racial injustices

“I apologize. I thought Dr. Bowers sent the last email. I still get a lot of error messages so it gets confusing how things are broken up. But thanks Jenn for the information. Barb

Sent from my iPhone”


On June 12, 2020, at 10:24 PM, Timothy Bowers <> wrote:

“Hi Barb,

Thank you for taking the time to share your insight, I certainly value your input. We have made several attempts this week to put a statement together that would send the right message of support and unity. It is very difficult to make sure we pick the right words that will not be taken out of context and turned into a statement that ends up being debated and politized. I have always felt the actions are much more important than words. Thursday June 4th less than 24 hours before a very important  professional development day was to occur for our teachers, my administration team put provisions in place so that our teachers and administration could rearrange their schedules and join the peaceful walk that occurred through our city on Friday June 5th. Many of our employees showed their support and participated the best way they could while still fulfilling their professional duties that day. I believe that action was more important than words on our webpage. I am certainly not opposed to putting out a statement moving forward but did want to explain why I have not felt that we should rush to that end. I would certainly welcome any ideas and suggestion you could provide in preparing a statement. Thanks again for your email and have a good weekend. Tim”


On June 13, 2020, 12:29 AM Jennifer Lake (REDACTED) wrote:


Thank you for acknowledging my email from Wednesday.

Making space for faculty, staff and administration to participate in the peace walk was the right call and I am really proud of our district for doing so.

As I initiated this email chain an request, I would be willing to work on a rough draft of a statement and can have that to you on Monday if that would be helpful. I know that you are spinning many plates right now. It is not my intent to add another plate. I do feel a public statement is important.

I am still curious what the rest of the board thinks of this…I’ve only heard from Barb and Nancy.

If it would be helpful for me to write a rough draft statement please let me know. I definitely don’t want to overstep…I only want to be helpful and offer some solutions. Then perhaps we can discuss in executive session after Tuesday’s board meeting?


Jennifer Lake, PCC



On June 13, 2020, 12:57 PM

From: Nancy Somers

To: Jenn L. Lake

Cc: Lori Baer; Fred A. Holland (WASD Solicitor); Star Poole; Timothy Bowers (WASD Superintendent); Barbara Reeves; Jane Penman; Adam Welteroth; Nancy Somers; Marc Schefsky; Patrick Dixon; ; Susie Bigger; Barbara Reeves

Subject: Statement from WASD regarding recent racial injustices

“Having read both Jenn’s and Barb’s emails, I would love to see what they could come up with a a statement from the district. Nancy”

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID


The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution – Part II of V is forthcoming.