‘Not a hate group’: Warwick school board members defend meeting with lawyer tied to anti-LGBTQ+ council | Local News

Three Republican Warwick school board members say they recently met with the chief counsel for Independence Law Center, a Harrisburg-based legal advocacy group that has helped school districts restrict access to library books and adopt policies to expand Christian rights while often targeting transgender students. 

The school board members say they requested the meeting with the attorney, Randall Wenger, to learn more about the center’s work with school boards as well as for general perspective from a prominent Republican who lives in the district. But some parents are alarmed by the prospect of the board teaming up with a religious rights law firm to shape public school policy. 

At a school board meeting Tuesday, member Jim Koelsch acknowledged meeting with Wenger and defended the law center. He made the statement after saying he wanted to respond to recent public comments and questions about the firm.

“So yes, I did have a meeting with the Independence Law Center, and no, the Independence Law Center is not a hate group,” Koelsch said. “The ILC is a group of very good lawyers doing some great work for the communities in Pennsylvania.”

Koelsch’s acknowledgment came one month after the Bucks County Courier Times reported he met with Wenger in late January. According to the report, Koelsch thanked Wenger afterward, writing “your insights will be very helpful navigating the coming weeks/months on the board.”

The 3,850-student district has seen raucous board meetings in recent months, with members of two small but outspoken groups — Moms for Liberty and Warwick Parents for Change — dominating public comments periods with a shifting list of grievances. Among other things, district residents have railed against “Marxism” and “woke curriculum” and attempted to recruit local church leaders “to represent biblical truth and the Lordship of Jesus Christ” in schools. 

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