Controversial Upper Dublin School Board Member Tricia Ebarvia’s career didn’t last through a single board meeting.
Facing a backlash over her connection to materials many believe are antisemitic, Ebarvia, elected on Nov. 7, announced her resignation at Wednesday’s board finance committee meeting. She was just sworn in at the district office the day before, Ebarvia said.
Ebarvia came under fire after she posted a link to a webinar purporting to teach the history of Israel and the Palestinians, but is filled with inaccurate and antisemitic tropes. Among them are descriptions of Israel as a colonial power and references to “ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.”
Last week, parents and residents called for her resignation. More than 2,500 people signed an online petition asking the board to remove Ebarvia.
Some 75 people came to the board’s Dec. 6 reorganization meeting, many of them demanding Ebarvia’s ouster. Several residents told the board they were hurt and outraged that a board member would allegedly espouse antisemitic views after the violent and brutal Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 Israeli citizens, most of them civilians.
“For the last five weeks since becoming the center of our current firestorm, I have been in deep reflection, introspection, and conversation with others who are also trying to best to navigate this moment,” Ebarvia said at Wednesday’s meeting. “First and foremost, there are people who are sincerely hurt by the pain my post caused. That pain is something I regret deeply, and I am sorry.
“One life skills lesson that we teach at my school is when we make a mistake, we do our best to make it right,” Ebarvia continued. “The challenge, of course, is discerning what ‘right’ is.
“For many, the only right path forward is for me to resign my seat,” said Ebarvia. “They have one story about me. They have searched and scrutinized my social media and elsewhere for evidence to support this single story of me, selectively highlighting details that make me ‘guilty by association.’”
“They have called my place of work, spoken to the press, and sent emails to universities where I’ve been invited to speak,” said Ebarvia. “All in an effort to discredit me or worse.”
Ebarvia claimed “many people” had asked her to remain on the board.
“It is clear to me that however willing I am to listen and learn and dialogue, I will not be able to serve in the capacity I had hoped,” she said. “The work the board has ahead is too great and important, and I do not want to derail from that work.
“Although the voices at the last two meetings have been largely one-sided, these are not the only voices in the community,” she said. She had spoken to numerous people in the community, including those who are Jewish. Many asked her to continue as a board member, she said.
But some are against diversity, equity and inclusion, and a parent told her it was about “woke cancel culture.”
“My fear is there are those in the community who will use what’s happened to me to derail the very work of equity and inclusion that our community needs now more than ever for all kids,” Ebarvia said.
In a similar incident in the Colonial School District, a school board member also resigned last month after she posted to Facebook calling the Israeli Defense Force a terrorist group, sparking outrage in that community.