MEET A MANSFIELD SCHOOL COMMITTEE CANDIDATE: Dave Rapoza

There is a four-way race for the Mansfield School Board with incumbent Lynn Cavicchi and challengers Ryan Barry, David Rapoza and Vivian Webster vying for two open seats. Elections will take place on May 10 and polls will be open at Mansfield High School.

David Rapoza

EDUCATION: Graduated Mansfield High School class 86, Bachelor of Science Bryant University (College) 90

OCCUPATION: Strategic Account Executive, project manager for a major global relationship

CIVIC EXPERIENCE: Mansfield Recreation Commission, Mansfield Zoning Board of Appeals, Mansfield Youth Football (Pop Warner) Board Member, Mansfield Youth Softball, Mansfield Youth Basketball Association-Board Member, Mansfield Little League

Why are you running for this seat?

A town with fabric like Mansfield draws its strength from its volunteers and the global voice of the people. The first charge of the school committee should be to put children first, which also means the voice of parents. The school committee is the channel for collecting these voices and works in parallel to support teachers and classrooms. I want to bring parents back to the table and have transparency with schools, the student body and parents. We need to start having conversations as a group and I think I can help bring it all together.

How do you think the school committee has handled the pandemic, especially the questions about mask requirements that many parents have asked? What would you have done differently? What do you think are the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on the school system and how should the committee address them?

Of course, they would agree (as did I) to follow the state mandate regarding mask wearing. Where I completely disagree with their approach (and this is where I come in to bring people together) was the time to create more conduits to have more discussions with parents about what’s going on. Sometimes I feel like parents’ voices were simply given on a podium to express their frustrations, then inevitably ignored. I disagreed with the postponement of the vote to accompany the removal of the mandate by the state. In fact, I would have requested a meeting when the announcement was made to call the vote immediately. Instead, they allowed parents to stay in conflict on social media for days. It seems that politics has crept into our schools and there is no room for that noise in our classrooms.

What’s your take on the Town Meeting’s citizen petition regarding “dividing topics” being taught in public schools?

As a baseline, I strongly disagree with the entry of politics into our schools. I think too many social issues have become politicized. What concerns me is that there seems to be a shift in approach within the national public university community. If the academic community is going to go from 0 to 90 with its changes, then there should definitely be parental input and involvement and peer review (collection of parents and local educators). But then again, if these approaches were to be adopted as they should be, there would be no 0-90 and there would be no division among parents. If we are going to make changes. Let’s establish a course of chivalry, bring back shop and Home Ec. Let’s teach our senior graduates how to fill out a tax form. Let’s have class conversations about being good people overall. We need to bring the parents back and redefine the needs of our children.

The committee recently voted to allow school choice. What do you think? How would you have voted?

As someone who encourages inclusion, I’m all for the idea. I would have liked to see Mansfield pause on the initiative and witness the experience of surrounding schools first.

What is one of your goals if elected?

Easy, bring the Mansfield school community down to one group.

Managing Editor Donna Whitehead can be reached by email at dwhitehead@wickedlocal.com. You can also friend on Facebook.