Taniesha Lyons is demanding the resignation of Paul Wagemann, member of the Clover Park School Board since 2009.
A special meeting of the school board to address the matter has been scheduled for Monday, December 21. The meeting agenda provides the link and password to join the webinar.
Lyons ran against Wagemann in 2019 and lost 62 to 38 percent.
Now Lyons wants Wagemann gone.
In a letter to the school board this week, Lyons charges Wagemann with “blatant bigotry and racism,” calling Wagemann “an explicit racist” and “a considerable liability.”
Lyon’s charges stem from a comment Wagemann made at the December 14 meeting of the school board.
During the webinar discussion concerning graduation rates, Wagemann said “we need to crack the whip.” It was this statement by Wagemann that prompted Lyons to write her letter and start a petition calling for Wagemann’s ouster.
To date, 84 people have signed Lyon’s petition.
Questioned about his statement in a phone call, Wagemann said he was referencing the 10-to-11 percent of students in the district who do not graduate when he said “we need to crack the whip” his intent being, he said, that the school board do all it could to help these youth get their diploma.
“Earlier in the meeting,” Wagemann continued, “we had been discussing ‘Open Doors,’ previously called ‘No Dropouts,’ the program that enables youth to graduate even up to age 21.
“If you’ve ever been to an Open Doors graduation,” Wagemann said, “then you’ve seen the tears. Tears from parents who are so thrilled their children are getting their diploma. Tears from young men and women realizing their dream. It’s very emotional and rewarding. I’ve long been an advocate for this program,” Wagemann said.
Wagemann said his statement that Lyons deems racist was then, in context, “not intended to be anything other than a joint call to do an even better job helping kids succeed.”
According to Filma Fontanilla who is Vice-President of the Clover Park Education Association for Diversity and Inclusion, those students not graduating from high school are “historically mostly Black and Brown and the most marginalized and subjected to the abuses and atrocities of institutional racism.”
Fontanilla, who says she was at the meeting Monday night, concluded Wagemann’s statement was “offensive.”
In Fontanilla’s letter to the school board, she states she “was hurt, appalled and disgusted with the comment ‘crack the whip’ made by Paul Wagemann.”
[Publisher’s Update (January 6, 2021): The above referenced letter to the school board was from the entire Executive Board of the Clover Park Education Association, not just Fontanilla.]
Fontanilla wants Wagemann to apologize for “the racist and public act” and, in her letter, asks that the school board “take additional training on Microagressions;” “implement an ethic studies curricula;” and “increase the racial diversity of the staff at all levels.”
In May of this year, a similar charge of racism for the use of the exact phrase – “crack the whip” – was ruled nondiscriminatory. As reported by James Robinson in the Daily Mail, “Vivienne Okoh, who is black, insisted the expression was racist, was referring to slavery and meant she was being discriminated against.”
However, Okoh’s manager, Caroline Ward, said she “had used the expression ‘cracking the whip’ in relation to their performance targets.”
The tribunal upheld Ward’s intent.
Performance goals, helping youth graduate, doing better because we can, is what Wagemann said he believes his statement should be understood to mean.
MM Russell says
Crack the whip: (Google): “
Behave in demanding way toward one’s subordinates. For example, He’s been cracking the whip ever since he got his promotion. This expression, first recorded in 1647, alludes to drivers of horse-drawn wagons who snapped their whips hard, producing a loud cracking noise to motivate the team.
Joseph Boyle says
Mr. Russell, thank you for your intelligent research and contribution.
Language police, such as those listed above are trying to steal our right to free speech as they complain about what they, and they only get to lable lmicro insults by using macro stupidity.
My father cracked the whip on me and he was as white as am. When he cracked the whip, I knew I better shape up.
This is another case of looking for trouble where there is no trouble to divide people and destroy our community.
Equaity, YES. Discrimination. NO. Abuse, NO. Along with that, let’s crack the whip on stupidity.
I am insulted for Mr. Wagemann for the dilusional macroagression targeting our public servant.
Apparently the complainer does not wish to crack the whip, get going, do something, make progress, charge ahead to help students of all races avoid dropping out of school.
The opposite, which Mr. Wagemann could have said is, let’s ignore, do nothing, not even start, forget about, back off from helping students who are at risk of dropping out.
Perhaps Ms. Lyons could invent an active listening app for Mr Wagemann’s phone that will buzz anytime he uses a word or phrase that the political correctness extremists think offensive.
Of course, based on the expanding view of political correctness extremists, Mr. Wagemann’s vocabulary will be reduced to about 84 words which will mean he will have to turn back his high school diploma.
I have to admit though, Ms. Lyons appears to know how to work dirty politics. If she can cause Mr Wagemann to lose his position, I am confident she will be ready to be appointed to fill his vacancy.
This macroagression against a white man is what they call dirty politics.
Joseph Boyle – One man’s disgusted opinion.
Ms. Lyons is trying to paint the board members into a corner. Should Mr. Wagemann resign voluntarily or at the request of the other members, she would be the obvious replacement by virtue of her seeking the position last year. It seems highly unlikely that she could generate the required number of valid signatures to initiate a recall.
Although I agree with you Joe, his comment at its face seems a bit out of place in discussing graduation rates.
Pat Hobbs says
What I find appalling in all of this is that anybody would find fault with a school board member who wants to do whatever is necessary to help more students graduate. What Miss Lyons’ response should have been is, “Yes, absolutely. Let’s figure out how we can encourage these young people to graduate and help them move on to become employable citizens in our community.”
Thank you, Clover Park School Board for doing whatever you can to help ALL of our young people learn!
Kellie Applegate says
Taniesha Lyons & Filma Fontanilla both need to go to PC & Microagressions dictatorial policing Detox Retraining School, where they can learn to live in a society that allows free speech and not be offended with normal comments that either black/brown/Asian or Caucasians make that they feel are “blatant bigotry and racism, explicitly racist” and have delusions of them being “a considerable liability.” or harmful to any one race.
I agree with Mr. Russell, Mr. Boyd & Pat Hobbs.
Helping the students to graduate is the premium goal of an excellent School Board Member!
Mr. Wagemann Bravo to you for trying to help the students who are struggling and for putting up with the “Harpies” of PC correctness, they are most annoying and detrimental to our students. They have no true desire to help the struggling students, all they want is self power.
Toni Aulerich Searles says
Bravo to Paul Wagemann! Today’s generation of students are not getting the education we did because of today’s society. Paul wants to make sure students get the best education and in order to do so nothing will be handed to them. It’s like work ethics, the harder you work, the stronger you are and more responsible in life you become.
Ms. Lyons, you are looking for a way to get rid of someone who wants the students to do well in CPSD. You are a jealous person who lost to the people’s choice and wants to use racism as an excuse to get what you want. Not only are you using racism but you have tried to make this an political issue, shame on you! You need to move on and use your energy elsewhere.
I have known Paul Wagemann for quite a few years, and know him to an honest ,an Godly man. We should all be thankful to have him on our school board. I’ve had him come to my door several time, while he was running for different offices. He has always been a friendly, gentleman. I know his wife, and his youngest son rode my school bus to Hudtloff.
Have no memory of Ms.Lyons coming to my door, when she ran for the school board.
So Ms. Lyons, just let it go. You lost. Paul Wagamann is on th school board to stay..
Gee Ms.Taniesha Lyons will you demand Joe Biden resign? Biz Insider “Joe Biden worried in 1977 that certain de-segregation policies would cause his children to grow up ‘in a RACIAL JUNGLE'” Former Vice President Joe Biden is facing increased scrutiny over his record on busing and racial issues, and this week old comments resurfaced in which he said, in 1977, that non-“orderly” racial integration policies would cause his children to “grow up in a racial jungle.” https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-said-desegregation-would-create-a-racial-jungle-2019-7
This another example of the ridiculous, ludicrous, yes I’ll say it, STUPID assignment of meaning to an innocuous statement. If people would stop wasting so much energy on being offended and channel that energy into making the world a better place, the world would be a better place!
I have also known Paul Wagemann for many years. He and I were in the same Sunday School together a while back and I found him to be a very godly man. Ms. Lyons, you lost the election for the school board and by your actions you show to be poor loser. Grow up. I and many others, of all races, are extremely tired of hearing pet words as “racist” and “racism” where there is none found. These are convenient words one uses to get what one wants. Shame, shame on you Ms. Lyons.
John Arbeeny says
In my view there are three issues that have far deeper importance than what J. Paul Wagemann said and how it might have been mistakenly interpreted. These are what the CPSB should be focused upon.
#1: CPSD Values and principles
Values and principles matter. CPSD needs to express them in terms of educational value to students’ lives and futures instead of social justice, equity, graduation rates. To not do so leaves you with a social engineering project instead of an educational system. The Board appears more worried about what’s said at a meeting that what the meeting was supposed to accomplish. Words are just that. What’s more important than what’s said is what’s done. That’s where the Board’s attention must be focused instead of being side tracked by meaningless non- issues. All these special “programs”, aside from the general education of students, indicate a system that is not functioning properly. This has been a long term problem with CPSD. Fix general education and the need for special compensating programs will diminish. Adding complexity to a failing system is not progress.
#2 Free Speech
1st Amendment guarantees free speech, even if the hearer finds it offensive. Get over it! Your offense or hurtfulness is not reason enough to deny free speech to someone you disagree with. Indeed it is the speech that some might find most offensive that is in need of the greatest protection. Your offense has nothing to do with the facts surrounding the debate. It is just an emotionally based attempt to stifle debate. If it weren’t the charge of “racism” it would be the charge of some other “-ism” or “-phobia” to cut off debate and kill the free expression of ideas. We don’t need re-education camps to force people’s acceptance of the politically correct dogma. That is what you found in the USSR. Taking offense has become a national pastime of the left but when you look deeper it’s really all about virtue signaling what a nice woke, caring, person they are. In the end, it’s all about the power to control others’ lives and little or nothing to do with alleged offense or its actual impact upon the alleged offended group in society.
Slinging around the charge of racism is nothing more than an attempt to cut off debate of the issues. Race is only important to racists. The constant harping on race is an attempt to keep that racism alive. It is at the core of identity politics. Brown and black are not the only races. What about “yellow” Asians or don’t they count because they’re too successful? What about those recent brown and black immigrants who have come to this country recently and been successful? What about a President of mixed racial background? Race is not the determinant of success. “Equity” just as “social justice” is a racist concept just as is “white privilege”. Equal outcome based on race is the antithesis of equal opportunity for everyone. Unfortunately those who support “equity” are judging people on the basis of their color; not on the content of their character. We don’t need more “sensitivity” regarding race; we need less.
To quote Booker T. Washington: “There is another class of coloured (My NOTE: actually any “color” will do) people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
Paul Nimmo says
African American, Asian American, Hispanic, Multiple ethnicities, Native American, Pacific Islander and White… these words are utilized by well educated adults to describe the student population in the District. My son, a student in the district, calls them friends.
I am truly sorry that Taniesha Lyons found the statement to be offensive. Unfortunately, if we are always looking for the bad, we will find it. I simply want to look for the positives, and there are so many.
I can’t say I know Mr. Paul Wagemann very well. The first time I met him was on a cold street corner, as I was waiving a levy campaign sign. He thanked everyone, and when he found that I was not only a parent of a district student but a former student as well, we struck up a long conversation. All I can say is that we were both there to support ALL students in the district. That is how I will continue to view Mr. Wagemann.
Sandra Wall says
I was shocked and dismayed to read about Ms. Lyons’ and Ms. Fontanilla’s reactions to Paul Wagemann’s use of the term “crack the whip” when expressing his concern that the Clover Park School Board put concerted effort into the “Open Door” program which enables students to graduate even up to the age of twenty-one. It is a program which supports students of all races, no preference or exclusion involved.
Paul has made himself available on several occasions to discuss issues of education in our community, and my husband and I leave those discussions with increased knowledge and the conviction that he is committed to improvement and a valuable representative on the board.
When I was growing up my mother would use the phrase “crack the whip” to express an awareness of and intent to focus on addressing a problem. “Cracking the whip” was an expression that heralded as far back, at least, as her grandfather’s generation. We have a photo of him on his farm in his handmade cart pulled by a mule. We don’t know if he ever had to crack the whip to make the mule do his job, but it’s easy to see how a term could evolve from the specific to a more general implication.
Ms. Lyons’ misguided objection to this phrase is counter productive to a community working together for the benefit of all of our students. Her desire to remove Paul Wagemann from the board sounds self-serving, a way for her to attempt to gain the position which voters denied her in the election.
Joseph Boyle says
Well put and kindly said especially when compared to my more blunt frank comment made earlier on this same outrageious attack on Mr. Wagemann.
Jesse Black says
Paul needs to understand that his intention and understanding of the statement ” crack the whip ” does not mean the same to all people. Historically, that statement was made by slave owners to their overseers to make their slaves wok harder. I believe that ” crack the whip ” a racist statement and should not be used when talking about making black and brown students work harder. Paul should educate himself on Cultural Sensitivity while exercising his position on the school board. Since this seems to be a repeated behavior that has come up in the past with him several times he should resign his position or educate himself.,
DAVID ANDERSON says
Your statement: “I believe that ‘crack the whip’ a racist statement and should not be used when talking about making black and brown students work harder.”
What Paul said, per the article: “Questioned about his statement in a phone call, Wagemann said he was referencing the 10-to-11 percent of students in the district who do not graduate when he said, “we need to crack the whip” his intent being, he said, that the school board do all it could to help these youth get their diploma.”
Paul was speaking to himself and his fellow board members that they, collectively, could do, should do, all that might be done, leave no stone unturned by which to help the 10 percent obtain their diploma.
Paul was not, contrary to your statement, even remotely suggesting these kids be worked harder.
There is a difference.
A huge difference.
Jesse Black says
It truly does not matter his intentions, the matter is that racist statements like this such as this are a part of the institutional racism that exists in society. I is important that when situations like this happen to call the out IMMEDIATELY and hold the offending party accountable for their actions and statements.
If this is not done the racial disparity that has gone on for decades will never end.
I understand that Paul was trying to impress the ugency in the importance of helping all students succeed.
However comments like this are unacceptable.
DAVID ANDERSON says
It very much matters his intentions. Words do matter. As does character. The two should be intended to correspond. If Paul did not have the character, the integrity, the legacy, the productivity to back up his intentions that would be one thing. But that his track record has been nothing but helping youth succeed is to make such charges as you and Lyons and Fontanilla et al ludicrous.
Paul Nimmo says
Just wondering if “institutional racism’ played a part in the hiring of Ron Banner?
Or perhaps “institutional racism” was a thought in the naming of the new/merged middle school? Named after the first female African American Mayor in Washington State?
WHAT!!!!! I believe you incorrect with what you say in your letter..
Men used to crack the whip, over horses back, to tell them to pull the wagon.. Seldom did the whip touch them it was the cracking noise that told them it is to move..
Julie Andrzejewski says
As I understand it, most of the students who are not graduating are students of color. That, in itself, is an indicator that there are serious problems that need to be addressed in the school district. What policies has the School Board enacted to directly change this problem? Is it getting better or not? If we truly want to help all students graduate, it would behoove everyone involved from the School Board to the students to be educated about how institutional racism functions. Sometimes it is blatant and other times very subtle and it leads to the same conclusion – systematic disadvantages to students of color. “Cracking the whip” to scare someone into action – does not seem an appropriate statement to make to anyone as it is unclear how such an action would help students graduate. It is not believable that Wagemann was wanting to crack the whip on the school board which would have included himself.
Representation on the Clover Park School Board does not represent the diversity of the students in the district. This is another sign of institutional racism. I want to thank Taniesha Lyons for having the courage to run against an incumbent to bring her expertise and a different voice to the Board, and for standing up for students of color even as she knows the kind of abuse she will suffer – as clearly indicated by the comments on this article.
Paul Nimmo says
“Representation on the Clover Park School Board does not represent the diversity of the students in the district”
If that were the case, the Board would be made up of:
African American – 11.85 percent
Asian American – 3.11 percent
Hispanic – 34.04 percent
Multiple ethnicities – 15.64 percent
Native American – 0.46 percent
Pacific Islander – 4.88 percent
White – 30.02 percent
I too applaud Taniesha Lyons for running for the School Board. However I don’t view this as courageous but more rooted in civic duty. School Board seats are elected by the populace and CPSD has the seats representing districts. Anyone from those boundaries may run for office. Although I do not see why anyone would run for public office if every word out of their mouths is under scrutiny.
If “crack the whip” is such a gut punch, then we must look to many other daily terms that may or can offend. Terms such as “master bedroom” or any other term using the word master. I wonder how many times the word “master” is in the Bible? Tiger Woods won the “Masters Tournament” five times. In computer technology, “Master/slave” components are referenced daily.
How about “blacklist” or “blackball”? “Peanut Gallery” or “cakewalk”? Have you ever taken advantage of a “grandfather clause”? I first heard the term “lynch mob” while watching an American Western.
All these terms are being cited as having racial overtones. I guess we are all in need of sensitivity training, or perhaps, over sensitivity training?
Your argument is old and tired, and always the same. In this instance, students of color are not graduating from high school because of institutional racism. By your inference, the school board, the school administration, the school teachers are all racists and by extension, the community at large. You and your ilk never lay blame where it is most obvious, and that’s the students’ parents. Are they not responsible to see to it that their children attend school everyday, that their children complete their homework assignments, and are they not ultimately responsible to create an atmosphere that places importance on education? Please be honest, Ms. Andrzejewski, and readers might take you more seriously.
Elizabeth Scott says
It is my understanding that Wagemann made his “crack the whip” comment about students not on track to graduate (primarily black and brown students) and when the School Board President called him on the use of that phrase he doubled down and said he knew exactly what it meant. If he wasn’t intending a racist meaning he could have apologized and explained what he “actually” meant. People often blurt out phrases and words that have been ingrained in them, but when they’ve been made aware of its hurtful or racist meaning a person who is caring and who is not explicitly racist would not defend their use of the phrase. And we do have a right to expect a higher standard from those who are in leadership positions and have power over how our children are educated.
Other examples of Wagemann’s bigotry I have been told about are:
• calling African American students the “darker students.”
• Saying that black fathers who were present at a back to school rally were scary and frightening and the children in the district probably didn’t understand what was happening.
• Voting “NO” on a policy that would protect LGBTQ students from being bullied in the classroom.
It all adds up to someone who is out of touch with the reality of Clover Park Students and who is explicity racist. Taneisha Lyons ran for school board last year because of issues with Wagemann and lack of representation in the CPSB. She is justified in calling him out. Some of the mean spirited comments toward her tell me a lot about the writers. Many of these writers clearly have not a clue what systemic racism is.
DAVID ANDERSON says
What proof of Wagemann’s alleged racism do you have from Wagemann’s accuser?
What evidence can you yourself provide other than hearsay?
Do you know if Wagemann’s accuser approached him personally and asked for a clarification of what he said before her public accusation?
Before she sought social media support?
Before she started a petition?
A petition in which she broad-brushed tarred him with “blatant bigotry and racism,” calling him “an explicit racist” and “a considerable liability?”
Which of those steps are irresponsible?
So far, 166 people have sign Ms. Lyons’ petition and of those, 15 are from out-of-state. Her goal is 1,000. Yep, this is a major issue all right.
Gayle McNeill says
This whole witch hunt is utterly insane. You are making statements that are innocent, into racial statements and you your selves just might find yourself in the same situation one day. I think you want him out of office for other reasons that you are not being upfront about, because this is so ridiculous. You know that you are accountable to God for actions that are mean and defaming and I do not say that lightly. Do what is good and right and just in HIs sight!!!
it is 4 days until Christmas. Lets be like the Germans and English in World War 1. lets sing Christmas Carols, play games and let the anger die. Enjoy one of the 2 most important holidays in the world. Peace to the world and peace between who should or should not be on Clover Parks school board members.
Good for you Gaye. Well said and true