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UPSD Board Approves Title IX Software Despite Objection
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

UPDATED 3/4/2024 - This story regarding the Upper Perkiomen School Board, and published online and in print in the Feb. 29, editions has been updated to reflect the following corrections: The story should have stated that Trina Schaarschmidt suggested that the members could save $1,500 by purchasing the "platinum package" for Title IX training software rather than the "diamond package" approved during the meeting. Also, it should have also stated that Schaarschmidt and Sarah Bieber voted against the action item to complete the purchase.


Also, a story in Feb. 8 edition should have also stated that Bieber, not Leah Cianfrani, seconded Schaarschmidt's motion to table an action item to puchase the same software.


           Despite continuing resistance from a member, the Upper Perkiomen School Board voted last week to purchase software intended to help the district meet its Title IX requirements. Trina Schaarschmidt and Sarah Bieber voted against a motion to spend $6,250 to renew software from Institutional Compliance Solution, LLC during the Feb. 22 workshop meeting.

            The service provides training for teachers from Kindergarten to 12th grade, according to Superintendent Allyn Roche.

Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina previously told the board that it would provide the essential tools to maintain the necessary training to deal with issues of discrimination. The district has utilized the company's "Title IX University" service since 2020.

Prior to the vote, several members rejected Schaarschmidt's proposal to consider alternatives and potentially save the district $1,500. She suggested that the members could save $1,500 by purchasing the "platinum package" for Title IX training software rather than the "diamond package"

Leah Cianfrani and Keith McCarrick expressed their approval of the action item. Both voted on Feb. 8 to approve Schaarschmidt's motion to table the renewal.

            Cianfrani said she didn't see a problem since the training was mandatory. Vice President Peg Pennepacker and J.P. Prego, who voted against the motion to table two weeks earlier, both expressed a desire to move forward.

"I fully support this," Pennepacker said. "I want the best training for our administrators and the best resources and results for them."

            Prego argued that any savings the district might have accrued has been "burned through" due to the additional time required for administrators to research questions from members. The member said they made the nature of the materials and the need "quite clear" during the previous meeting.

            "We've spent a lot of time on a very small contract," board President Melanie Cunningham said.

            During the board comment portion of the meeting, Schaarschmidt expressed dismay that other members find it "problematic" that she would want to save the district $1,500 and that she asked "important questions" about the service.

            The board president responded by saying she did not describe the questions as problematic. Cunningham asked that the members weigh the balance of the district's contracts before scrutinizing them. She referenced its new copier contract, totaling approximately $87,000 annually.

            "I always want to hear questions," Cunningham said.

            Schaarschmidt told the board president that she considers a "social initiative" more important than a copier. Cunningham said she thought Schaarschmidt was only concerned about the money.

            Two weeks earlier, Sarah Bieber, Emily McCormick, McCarrick and Fluckey voted with Schaarschmidt to defer the purchase. Schaarschmidt suggested that the district seek other vendors.

            The vote generated an impassioned response from Georgiann M. Fisher, the district's human resources director. She claimed the action would inhibit the district's ability to protect students and teachers from discrimination.

            "As the parent of a queer brown child, I am here to tell you it's disgraceful," Fisher said, fighting back tears during the board comments portion of the Feb. 8 meeting.






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