What began as a typical suburban school board meeting quickly turned into something resembling a barroom brawl or WrestleMania, complete with a folding chair flying through the air.
It broke out Tuesday night during the tail end of the Central Bucks School Board meeting’s public comment period after Tim Daly, a Lower Makefield Township resident, used his time to hurl allegations of misconduct at school board member Tabitha Dell’Angelo. As Daly concluded his remarks and returned to his seat, he threw papers at Steve Sullivan, Dell’Angelo’s husband and the campaign manager for Rick Haring, a Democrat who is running for Central Bucks School Board Director in Region 6.
In videos posted online, Sullivan can be seen reacting by jumping out of his seat, picking up his chair, and lunging at someone with it (presumably Daly). Chaos ensues for a few seconds as the police, who happened to be in the room, hurry over and escort the two men out.
READ MORE — Beth Ann Rosica: A glimmer of hope for public schools — union opt-outs
“Maybe we should have some sage,” an uneasy older woman’s voice can be heard saying in videos posted online just before the meeting recesses. Calls placed to Sullivan for comment were not immediately returned.
Tuesday’s incident has further intensified the heat in the hotly contested race for Bucks County school board in Region 6, which has been the most competitive and most watched in the nine-region school district. The outcome of this race could determine the board’s political control as a whole. The Republican-majority-controlled panel has been in the spotlight in recent months over accusations that its members hold anti-LGBT sentiments and ban books they deem sexually explicit.
In Region 6, Haring is running against Aarati Martino, a Republican, Google engineer, and mother of two kids in the Central Bucks School District. Martino claims on her website that her policy goals include promoting “the values of grit, compassion, respect, and responsibility.”
“This is the school board, and we adults are supposed to be showing the kids leadership by example,” Martino said of Tuesday’s incident. “And the adults are not acting very well. I feel like some of these adults need to go back to kindergarten.”
Martino and her husband, Paul Martino, a venture capitalist, have accused Haring of lying on his financial disclosure form, which is required to run for office. They claim Haring is running for office to “settle old scores” and that he failed to report outstanding debts. Additionally, they allege that Haring did not disclose that his wife was a lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the school district. The lawsuit seeks equal pay for more than 350 female teachers and more than $100 million in damages.
We adults are supposed to be showing the kids leadership by example, and the adults are not acting very well.
“If you have a potential $100–200 million-dollar payday, what happens if you don’t recuse yourself? You’re gonna get your money, right? There’s no safeguard,” said Aarati Martino. “This is what I’ve learned, working as long as I [have]… [Haring] even said the whole reason he’s been running is because he wants to rectify the wrongs done to his wife.”
“Please understand that the whole point of a financial disclosure form is to make clear any potential conflicts of interest with CBSD and the taxpayers,” Paul Martino said, calling for Haring to step down from his candidacy.
Calls seeking comment were not immediately returned. But on his Facebook page, Haring claims that if he were to get elected, he would recuse himself from all decisions associated with his wife’s case. On his campaign website, Haring said that if elected, he would support LGBT students, “make better financial decisions,” and “fight to prevent book bans on material with literary merit.”
The next Bucks County School Board meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 10. The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Broad + Liberty Editorial Assistant Olivia DeMarco contributed to this story.
Jenny DeHuff has been a multimedia journalist for the past 15 years in Philadelphia. Her bylines include the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, Playboy Magazine, City & State PA, and Philly Voice. She’s won multiple awards for investigative journalism. @RuffTuffDH