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 two open seats on the Lindbergh school board on April 5 against a field of four candidates, including David Randelman, Carrie Clay and board incumbent Jennifer Miller, who was re-elected.
Voss is a mother of three in the district and is director of litigation support and e-discovery at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, PC. She said her 20 years of experience as a lawyer should prepare her for her tenure. to counsel, particularly when considering litigation matters.
“As a lawyer you have to look at…all sides of the issues, you can’t just focus on your clients’ point of view because if you do you won’t get to see the strengths of the point. view of the opposing party,” Voss said. “This skill is something I’ve been practicing for 20 years.”
Voss said she first considered running for the board six years ago after raising concerns at a meeting about former superintendent Jim Simpson “publicly bashing teachers”. She said at that time she realized the council was a group of professionals trying to improve the district and she saw herself as someone who could do the same.
She said the reason she finally decided to run was due to recent book-related challenges in the district. The challenges were raised by parents seeking to add restrictions to 15 books in the Lindbergh High School library. Voss said she views it more as a national political movement than Lindbergh’s parents challenging the books because they were in fact questionable.
“I’m generally very against censorship, I don’t think anything good comes of it. I think we need to give kids access to material that will challenge their perspective…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 it 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 seems like no one cares about what’s best for the kids, it looks like a political decision by a party.
Another topic of discussion at council meetings was the district’s equity and diversity efforts, and claims that critical race theory is taught in the district. District staff have stated in several meetings that CRT, a law school-level concept, is not taught in the district. Voss said the fact that the two elements are lumped together could be resolved with increased communication between the district and the 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 watch a YouTube video from the district, where Director of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Jeremy Mapp explains the district’s efforts, they could see that it’s meant to “do so that each child feels like they belong. The video can be found at youtube.com/watch?v=IWyz5LIkka0.
Voss suggested that adding more opportunities for discussion between the district and citizens could be beneficial for everyone involved.
“Board meetings aren’t organized to go back and forth…that’s not really the intention of a board meeting. People leave the board meeting and they’re unhappy because there’s no back and forth,” Voss said.
She said a town hall/open forum type meeting, similar to council listening sessions hosted by the Mehlville School District, could ease frustration and keep the community informed.