BRADENTON -- After their five-minute self-introductions, Manatee County School Board candidates on Thursday fielded questions from members of the Manatee Tiger Bay Club about social media, sex education and the overall role of the school board.
"The morals have to start from home," said William Chaltis, District 2 candidate and a Palmetto High School teacher, in response to a question about the role of schools in combating increased teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among students. "Everyone wants to blame teachers for everything ... but somewhere down the line the parents have to take responsibility."
Social media policies within the school system were another topic of conversation. Controversy has ensued after a music teacher at Rogers Garden Elementary School in Bradenton posted a comment on her Facebook page about one of her students. In the comment, the teacher said her student "may be the evolutionary link between orangutans and humans."
Dave "Watchdog" Miner, another District 2 candidate, called the situation "very sensitive and unfortunate," adding that the school board should have oversight to check if the school took the appropriate steps to provide comfort and amend the matter.
A Manatee Tiger Bay Club member asked the candidates to define the school board's role and relationship with the superintendent.
Lakewood Ranch High School teacher and District 2 candidate Robert Moates said the school board needed to have an "active role," directing policy and understanding how it played out in the
Moates, in his five-minutes statement, said a "one-size-fits-all" approach does not work for curriculums and that "any parent knows every child is different."
He compared that approach to eating fast food from McDonald's.
"You can live on it butnot very well," Moates said.
Having a "watchdog" on the school board making sure that money was being spent appropriately would benefit everyone, Miner said in his statement.
Candidates should be judged based on what they've done in the past, not future promises, he said.
In his opening state-ment, Chaltis said stu-dents were being overwhelmed with standardized tests and that "they don't even take them seriously anymore."
When children are placed first, he said, "everything else will fall into place."
Paul Sharff, also a District 2 candidate, was not present.
District 4 candidatesBob Gause and LindaSchaich did not attend the luncheon due to another previously scheduled engagement.
Both candidates had a representative who made a five-minute overview presentation about them and their campaigns.
Greg Green, who spokeon behalf of incumbent Gause, said he knewGause through the Manatee County Chamber ofCommerce and had see him "put the tools in place ... to mobilize people in order to accomplish an objective."
Mike Becks, Schaich's campaign assistant,characterized her as ethic-al and persistent, and saidshe had a financial background that currentlywas nonexistent on the board.
Manatee County School Board elections are Aug. 14.