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McFeely: Scott, Ollenburger among extremists running for Fargo School Board

Scott and Ollenburger were front and center in the flopped recall of four board members last year over the district's mask mandate. The recall failed because more than 6,000 petition signatures were deemed invalid, mostly because they were signed by people who didn't live in the Fargo school district. It was a stunning show of incompetence.

Allie Ollenburger, an organizer with the Recall Fargo School Board group, stands with others to announce the group has procured enough signatures to begin the process of a special election on Tuesday, Aug. 24.jpg
Allie Ollenburger, far right, and Alexis Scott, second from right, were two organizers with the Recall Fargo School Board group that failed last year.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum
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FARGO — We are here as a public service to you, dear readers. We report, you decide. As such, it is worth pointing out that five candidates for the Fargo school board are being pushed and supported by far right-wingers. Among those candidates are at least two who were involved in the failed recall vote last year, another who compared mask mandates to Nazi Germany and another who leads a fringe political party that believes all that is "Just and Good" must be defended "no matter the strategy or cost."

Toss in potential book banning and you have a third of the candidates in the 15-person field who can only be described as extremists.

Allie Ollenburger, Alexis Scott, Deven Styczynski, Kristin Sharbono and incumbent David Paulson are the five right-wing darlings. A perusal of Facebook shows support for the "AADDS" candidates — Allie, Alexis, Deven, David and Sharbono — and a vicious bashing of the current board, Superintendent Rupak Gandhi and myriad others with whom the extremists disagree.

Scott and Ollenburger were front and center in the flopped recall of four board members last year over the district's mask mandate . The recall failed because more than 6,000 petition signatures were deemed invalid, mostly because they were signed by people who didn't live in the Fargo school district. It was a stunning show of incompetence.

Styczynski is head of the North Dakota Heritage Party, a political organization that according to its social media posts believes the biggest issue facing America is "the destruction of the traditional family structure" and that a return to families with "strong fathers" and "caring mothers" would "solve so many of our issues." Presumably, that would leave no room for families that include same-sex parents or single parents.

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During a school board meeting last year, according to The Forum, Sharbano continued her vociferous and vocal opposition to the district's mask mandate by comparing the mandates to Hitler's Germany: "If I don’t fight for our God-given rights and the freedoms that our ancestors fought for … what freedoms will be lost next? There are way too many resemblances to Nazi Germany. "

Seems reasonable. Sharbano believes an inconvenience is the same as 6 million people being rounded up and murdered.

The latest twist in the plot, so to speak, comes courtesy of the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America, of which school board candidate Zac Echola is a member. The DSA has accused Scott of wanting to ban books in the district. Via social media, she denied it.

The organization made an open-records request to look into emails sent to the school board by recall leaders. It found Scott and ally Amy Mueller, another local woman involved in the recall effort, peppering the board with questions about classroom materials and reading lists. They were specifically upset about a 1970 Toni Morrison book titled, "The Bluest Eye," a novel about a young Black girl growing up in Ohio after the Great Depression. The book at times is graphic, depicting rape and incest.

"The Bluest Eye" is among the most challenged books in the country, largely by conservative groups who want it banned from schools.

In an email provided to The Forum, Mueller accused the district of having books promoting critical race theory and transgenderism on its reading list. Mueller is the person, it should be noted, who last year said the hiring of an equity and inclusion director is proof the district is pushing critical race theory.

"Please remove these books from the list immediately," Mueller wrote, which would be the definition of book banning.

The DSA says Scott, Mueller and others have been "fishing for books to ban since at least October."

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Ollenburger, Scott, Styczynski, Sharbono and Paulson.

Your choice. We reported, you decide.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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