Editor’s Note: I will be discussing this issue on the Live Show tonight at 9 PM. Click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel to comment live, call in, or just watch quietly.
Last month we blogged about the Wachusett Regional School District after they voted to delay reopening the schools in Central Mass’ largest regional school district until January 19 just 36 hours before schools were scheduled to reopen. Parents were given no warning, despite surveys in which 80% of parents wanted schools to reopen.
I realize that only a small percentage of our readers live in this district, but WRSD is a microcosm of a much larger problem that is preventing kids from returning to school all over the state – unqualified public health experts and local school boards who take their marching orders from them. The teacher’s union has been blamed by many for the failure to reopen, but ultimately they are not the ones who make this decision.
Last night they had another meeting to vote on whether or not to reopen schools for K-2 students. Kindergarten students in many districts have never even seen the inside of their school. They have had no opportunity to make friends, as other children are nothing more than faces on a computer screen. Every without in-person learning delays their development. Special needs students and students of color continue to suffer at a disproportionate rate due to school closures, and districts are reporting record number of failures. Many parents cannot leave their children home alone which means that parents have either had to quit their jobs or pay to dump their kids off in learning pods at places like the YMCA or JCC, which defeats the purpose of closing schools. Yet adults keep the schools closed because they worried, without evidence, that a virus with a 99.9% recovery rate will spread in the schools, despite the fact that this hasn’t happened in the vast majority of schools that have opened.
This is the district’s de facto public health expert Julia Pignitore.
As you can see she works at UMass Memorial and it says Health Care on her shirt so she must be an expert on the spread of infectious diseases. Except that she works as a liability claims specialist there.
“Demonstrated ability to analyze strategy, cost and benefit of business practices and initiatives.”
She works in insurance claims for medical malpractice for large companies, and also serves as a Selectman in a town of less than 5,000 people.
Prior to UMass she worked at Hanover and Travelers as an insurance adjuster.
It should be noted that Julia was terminated from her position as an injury adjuster at Hanover in the winter of 2016 for poor performance.
Naturally then the School Committee in one of the largest regional district’s in the state uses her as their professional expert on when schools should open. There are multiple doctors and COVID researchers who live in the district, but Superintendent Darryl McCall chose Julia Pignitore over all of them as the de facto expert elected officials use to influence their decision on school reopening. I have attempted to reach out to McCall for an explanation as to why she is the chosen expert, but have not hear back. However, she has been saying all of the right things that pro-lockdown individuals want to hear.
Pignitore became a member of the Paxton Board of Health in 2019 after the board of selectmen, on which she serves, voted unanimously for her over a candidate named Seth Peters, who just so happens to be a infectious disease expert and served as the chief of epidemiology and health protection for the City of Worcester. City officials have nothing but good things to say about him.
“In his position within the Division of Public Health as chief of epidemiology, Mr. Peters is an exemplary employee who fulfills his city role with high marks.”
But the town of Paxton chose an insurance adjuster because her husband is a firefighter. That was literally their rationale.
Pingitore’s undergraduate degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute was in biology and biotechnology, and she has 17 years of experience in healthcare positions, including long term care, acute care, primary care, and her current job at UMass Memorial Medical Center is in a “patient safety-related position,” she told the selectmen and health board members.
Seventeen years of experience in healthcare positions? Patient safety related position? Her own resume says otherwise.
“Your husband’s in the fire department, and in the past years, I think that was a particular interest to me because that just helps our communications with other bodies in the government to make sure they’re on the same page as we are when it comes to emergency preparedness and things like that,” Carroll said. Pingitore’s husband, Michael, has served as assistant fire chief since his appointment in December 2016.
Neither Hatstat nor Carroll gave a specific reason for opposing Peters’ appointment. Carroll said that a past experience working with Pingitore was “pleasant” because she brought “a lot of cross-experience.”
Before Bogren knew Pingitore was interested in the position, he said he was impressed by Peters’ qualifications and his interest in the position on the health board.
“But I like the symbiotic relationship of having somebody within being able to connect with different boards, being able to connect (with) the Fire Department,” Bogren said.
The one guy is qualified and experienced in the spread of infectious diseases, but the other person is pleasant and her husband is a firefighter. That’s how the town of Paxton chose their board of health. Without that happening Pignitore would not be in a position to give the School Committee advice on when to reopen the schools.
At the 36:45 minute mark of the video a member asks Pignitore for her input on whether or not she foresees schools reopening by January 19. Listen to her response. (if the video doesn’t embed then click here to watch)
“It depends on how well people adhere to guidelines over the next few holidays. What we saw with Thanksgiving was an uptick 5-7 days later, but we saw that that continued over the next 2-3 weeks. If you were to apply that to Christmas and New Years potentially we would be running into a situation where cases were high on January 19. But it’s really going to depend on whether people learned from Thanksgiving and decided to take a different route or not.”
They’re already preemptively blaming parents for when they inevitably decide to delay reopening on January 19. It’s your selfish neighbor’s fault schools aren’t reopening because they visited family on Christmas. Get angry with them and post about it on Facebook. Blame it on people not wearing masks. It was their fault for the spike after Thanksgiving because they didn’t “adhere to the guidelines” like Dr. Birx, who visited three generations of family in Delaware over the break. Pignitore wants to tell the Committee it’s safe to reopen, but it’s up to the parents to behave. She knows this all from her background as a liability claims specialist.
The problem here is that elected officials defer to people like this instead of doing the research themselves.
Another member asks her at the 42:50 mark “what would be your recommendation” for allowing schools to reopen for K-2 on January 5.
“I can’t say that I would get behind moving kids in earlier understanding that there will likely be a lot of cases that are developing de novo after the holidays. At the January 4 mark I think we’re still seeing a lot of people incubating the virus and not necessarily testing positive or showing the signs. So I think it would be a risky situation.”
She “thinks” we will see people “incubating” the virus but not testing positive. She thinks. Therefore 5 year olds should continue to sit in front of a computer for 5-6 hours a day and be denied a quality public education. Because an insurance adjuster thinks it’s dangerous.
Ultimately it’s your local school committee’s fault for allowing people like this to influence their decisions, rather than making a tough decision themselves. It’s easy to hide behind a “public health expert,” but it’s not easy to stand up to them, even when they’re grossly unqualified. One of these members is Asima Silva from Holden.
Silva is a mother of5 and an IBM software engineer, which likely allows her to work from home. She’s clearly doing well for herself since she lives in a 3,800 square foot home valued at $665,800. Silva is Muslim, and is quite active politically as an outspoken critic of Donald Trump. She often uses her children as props, claiming in 2016 when attending the Democratic National Convention that her daughter told her to “make sure Trump doesn’t win, so people won’t hate us.”
— Shannon Dooling (@sdooling) July 28, 2016
If your child tells you that people will hate them depending on the outcome of an election and you don’t correct them, then you have failed as a parent. If the child actually said that, which seems unlikely.
She was chosen as Jim McGovern’s guest at the 2016 State of the Union, because he needed a Muslim person in order to show his displeasure with the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
“I’ve gotten to know her over the last few months and I think she’s an incredible person,” Mr. McGovern said. “I thought she would be an important person to be my guest at the State of the Union.”
She said she hopes her attendance will convey a message about Muslims in America. “I would hope people realize that we are part of the community,” she said, as well as “constituents important enough to be part of the United States’ political life.”
Silva has also chosen not to attend School Committee meetings because the Congressman invited her to dinner, which was more important because it would “bring Wachusett more visibility and network.”
Being an activist and eating a free meal with Jim McGovern is more important than doing the job she was elected to do.
Asima Silva, whose daughter, Maimoona, 17, was a student in Honors Chemistry last year, said that Maimoona expressed concerns about how her teacher treated her in class. Mrs. Silva said Maimoona reported not being called on and having a feeling that she did not exist for the teacher. Mrs. Silva, who was born in India, came to the United States as a child. The family are practicing Muslims, and Maimoona wears the Islamic head covering, the hijab. She is currently a senior, but attends only a few classes at the high school. Her mother said she chose to be home schooled after being harassed by her peers in middle and high school.
Mrs. Silva said Maimoona experienced prejudice during the last school year, including a situation that occurred during a chemistry lab period in April, when the teacher was talking to several other students and made the comment, “She should move to India and become a Muslim.” When the teacher turned and saw that Maimoona had heard the comment, she told Maimoona that the comment was not about her. Mrs. Silva learned about the comment the day it happened and immediately reported it to school principal William Beando, who conducted an investigation. Mr. Beando declined to discuss the specifics of the incident or the outcome of his investigation, saying that he did not want to manage the student-teacher relationship. He declined to answer when asked if the teacher had been disciplined.
Mrs. Silva met several times during the summer and into the fall with Mr. Beando, interim superintendent Anthony Gasbarro and deputy superintendent Darryll McCall. She said she was not satisfied with the school’s response, and that neither the school nor the district administration accepted the comment as prejudiced.
“If the prejudice is coming from the teachers, it condones it for the students,” Mrs. Silva said.
The student who chose to be home schooled believed she was discriminated against by the teacher because she wasn’t called on in class. These classes have 25 students in them, and as a former teacher I can tell you that sometimes you just can’t call on everyone. Students often perceive that as the teacher not liking them, and rather than approaching the teacher about it they run home, complain to a parent, and the parent blindly believes them and raises hell.
The allegation of racism by the teacher was investigated by administration and found to be baseless, so Silva ran to the ACLU with the ultimate goal of having her hand picked non-profit paid by the school district to teach diversity training.
Mr. Robarge said that while the ACLU does not do diversity training, he agreed it would be helpful for the school district and asked Mrs. Silva to identify an organization that would provide the kind of training she felt was needed at the school. She identified the Islamic Networks Group, a California-based nonprofit that fights prejudice toward American Muslims through education.
This is how the racism-industrial complex works.
Step 1 – baselessly allege racism
Step 2 – sell the antidote for racism through diversity training
Step 3 – profit
After Trump was elected she did an interview with WBUR (with the same reporter from the tweet above who seems to run to Silva whenever she needs a quote on Islamophobia) about it where she cried and once again told a story about something insane that one of her kids said to her.
“And it was the first time I realized, ‘I’m the other. I’ve just become the other,’ ” Silva says, letting out a sigh as her eyes water.
“But, I picked up my son, because he was sick at school, and in the car he said to me, ‘Mom, I think I’m actually sicker ’cause I’m worried.’ And I said, ‘Worried about what?’ And he said, ‘I’m worried that Trump is elected, because he wants to kick us out.’ “
That probably nevrer happened, but the crying on cue for reporters was a nice touch. If her son did say that and she didn’t immediately correct him (her children are not immigrants and she herself grew up in Rutland) then she is intentionally feeding them disinformation and encouraging them to be theatrical instead of being educated.
The election did work out for Silva financially because it once again gave her the opportunity to sell diversity training to the district.
And engaging is exactly what Asima Silva has in mind.
She’s bringing training sessions about Islamophobia into school districts, ready to talk with people about Trump’s views.
“One thing we have to appreciate is that because of him, we are now more awake,” she says. “I feel that more people are now realizing that we cannot hide anymore.”
Folks like this need people like Trump in power because without a villain there is no need for a superhero.
At the 44:00 mark of the meeting Silva spoke about why she thinks schools should remain closed as she choked back tears.
“I just lost uncle this morning to COVID (crying). I just returned back from the cemetery, and my question to the board of health is, I have seen hospitals being overwhelmed, so are when these metrics are being laid are they considering what reopening’s impact would have on hospitals? I’m going to quote what one of my family member’s doctors said, is once you are admitted as a COVID patient you become a number at this point. You are no longer a family member and a loved one. Because that is the only way they can take care of these patients. Are we really outlining these metrics like how many numbers can we barely support? Or are we treating them like anyone who gets COVID gets treated as a family member of human being?”
Aside from the completely inappropriate way in which a public official used an unconfirmed anecdote and cried during a meeting in order to influence public policy, no doctor would ever tell someone that a COVID patient is “no longer a family member and a loved one.” That never happened, and she’s making it up to influence whether or not our children get to go to school.
She says she lost an uncle that morning to COVID and was already visiting him in the cemetery. That was a quick death and burial. I’m not saying she’s making this story up, but she began crying and then stopped almost on command, much like she did during the WBUR interview. Almost as if there is a pattern with this woman. And since Silva is using this story in a clear attempt to influence public policy she should tell the public the name of her uncle along with his comorbities in order to confirm that the story is real. If she can’t do that then it shouldn’t be used to influence public policy.
Silva also asked Pignitore if the school committee should reject the data that says it is safe to reopen schools, and instead focus on the theatrics of “treating anyone who gets COVID as a family member.”
In her most recent Facebook post Silva shared a video from conservative media outlet The Blaze alleging that the state is collecting data on our kids and using it to brainwash them, apparently because she’s not aware enough to realize that she is a liberal sharing right wing propaganda featuring noted lunatic Michelle Malkin.
Hand picked “public health experts” and lying school committee members are the people currently deciding when your kids get to go to school. They get to control your children’s educational opportunities. This is why it’s so important to vote in local elections and do your own research – because the well being of your kids hangs in the balance. If you live in the WRSD you should use your voice to contact Superintendent McCall at [email protected], or pick up the phone to voice your displeasure. The schools belong to you, and you are the voice for the children. Stop being bullied by these people.
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