Newest Lindbergh board director looking to increase back and forth dialogue with community

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Photo by Beth Johnston

Christy Watz swears in Jennifer Miller and Julia Voss to the Lindbergh Board of Education.

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

Julia Voss, the newest member of the Lindbergh Board of Education, was sworn in on April 12. 

Voss, a newcomer to public office, was elected to one of the two open seats on the Lindbergh school board April 5 against a field of four candidates, which included David Randelman, Carrie Clay and board incumbent Jennifer Miller, who won reelection.

Voss is a mom to three children in the district and is a director of litigation support and eDiscovery at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. She said her 20 year background as a lawyer should prepare her for her time on the board, especially when examining contentious issues.

“As a lawyer you have to look at … all sides of issues, you can’t just focus on your clients’ perspective because if you do you’ll fail to see the strengths in the opposing side’s view,” Voss said. “That skill is something I have been practicing for the past 20 years.”

Voss said she first considered running for the board six years ago after voicing her concerns  at a meeting about former Superintendent Jim Simpson “publicly disparaging teachers.” She said at that point she realized the board was a group of professionals trying to better the district and she saw herself as someone who could do the same.

She said the reason she decided to finally run was due to the recent book challenges within the district. The challenges were brought forward by parents seeking to add restrictions to 15 books in the Lindbergh High School library. Voss said she saw it as more of a national political movement than Lindbergh parents challenging books because they were actually questionable.

“I am generally very against censorship, I don’t think anything good comes from it. I think we need to give children access to materials that will challenge their viewpoint … or let them see themselves in a book where they might not see that in everyday life,” Voss said. “It wasn’t just ‘Oh, we noticed this book in the library, should this really be here?’ It was a national effort and the books were all the same and the talking points were all the same across the country. To me … it doesn’t look like anyone cares about what’s best for the kids, it looks like a party political move.”

Another topic of discussion during board meetings has been the district’s equity and diversity efforts, and claims of critical race theory being taught in the district. District staff have said at multiple meetings that CRT, a law school level concept, is not being taught in the district. Voss said the fact that the two items are lumped together could be fixed by increased communication between the district and community.

“What we need to do is make sure the community understands what the district means by diversity and equity,” Voss said.

She said if parents watched a video on the district’s Youtube, where Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Director Jeremy Mapp explains the district’s efforts, they could see that it’s meant to “make every kid feel belonged.” The video can be found at youtube.com/watch?v=IWyz5LIkka0. 

Voss suggested that adding more opportunities for back and forth discussion between the district and citizens could be beneficial for everyone involved.

“Board meetings are not set up for back and forth … that’s not really the intent of a board meeting. People leave the board meeting and they are not satisfied because there is not back and forth,” Voss said. 

She said a town hall/open forum type meeting, similar to board listening sessions held by the Mehlville School District, could alleviate frustration and keep the community informed.