Editor’s note: The Frederick News-Post is profiling candidates for various public offices in Frederick County leading up to the July 19 primary elections. Each school board profile will include an audio recording of the full interview.
Brunswick parent April Montgomery said she would work to rebuild trust between the school system and the community if she won a seat on the Frederick County Board of Education.
Montgomery said she decided to run for office when she overheard a virtual seventh grade health class lecture of her daughter’s. She said the subject matter was “very mature” and “not necessary” and made her daughter “visibly uncomfortable,” though she didn’t specify what it was.
“That was my biggest, main flag,” Montgomery said. “It was the oversexualized material that was being presented.”
If elected, Montgomery said, she would enact policies that make it easier for parents to understand and access the content of their children’s lessons. She’d also try to foster better relationships between teachers and parents, she said.
“When there’s a lack of transparency, [people] are immediately going to believe there’s something sinister going on,” Montgomery said. “Like, ‘Why didn’t I know about this? What are you trying to do?’ ”
Montgomery has been a vocal critic of the district’s move to adopt new health curriculum standards from the state that include references to sexual and gender identity. At public meetings, she has also taken issue with the district’s textbook approval process and mask policies.
Before moving to Frederick in March 2020, Montgomery said, she lived in Colorado and worked as a special education instructional assistant. She said that background would be an asset on the board.
Montgomery said she would advocate for more training and resources for special education staffers. She pointed to a recent U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Frederick County Public Schools’ misuse of seclusion and restraint against students with disabilities, arguing that the findings proved the board would benefit from someone with experience in special education.
Her time in that job taught her how to assist children in crisis, she said.
“Understanding each individual child is how we actually progress into being able to tell when these things are coming,” Montgomery said, “so that we can help them to de-escalate before it gets too far.”
Montgomery said she was glad Cheryl Dyson, the district’s incoming superintendent, declared that special education would be a priority of her tenure.
“Having a background in special needs, it is definitely near and dear to my heart,” she said.
Since launching her campaign, Montgomery has aligned with three other self-described conservative women in the race: Heather Fletcher, Ashley Nieves and Tiffany Noble.
Like her allies, Montgomery said she would work to get all of the board’s committee meetings televised and available for streaming later. While the board’s main meetings are in the evenings, have livestreaming and can be watched later, most of its subcommittees meet during working hours and are not recorded.
Montgomery floated the idea of creating “a database for each teacher” that displayed their lesson plans and curriculum materials.
Though Montgomery “never” expected she’d run for office, she said, she “dived in head first” and is “already bringing transparency to the parents.”
“We need people on the board like myself that are going to stand up and be brave, have the hard conversations and make the right decision for everybody, not just one specific group,” Montgomery said.
The other candidates in the school board race are: Nancy Allen, Olivia Angolia, Liz Barrett, Ysela Bravo, David Brooks, Rae Gallagher, Mark Joannides, Rayna Remondini, Cindy Rose, Dean Rose, Justi Thomas and Karen Yoho.