Litchfield Elementary School District Board Member Resigns Over Frustration With Resistance to Equity Work, COVID Regulations

Litchfield Governing Board
Litchfield Governing Board members Dr. Tara Armstead (second from left) and Kimberly Moran (right) congratulate our Curriculum Department on an excellent event. Mandy Greene (left), Dr. Sarah Pearson (center) and Tami (second from right).

By Corinne Murdock

Litchfield Elementary School District (LESD) Governing Board member Dr. Tara Armstead announced her resignation during Tuesday’s special meeting. Armstead’s total time at LESD lasted five months. The only Black board member alluded to her frustrations with resistance to the district’s equity work.

Armstead’s resignation wasn’t originally a part of the meeting agenda. The ex-board member noted that she’d submitted her resignation on Monday, officially. She said it was her intention when she became a board member this spring to take her advocacy to another level on behalf of students and their families. Instead, Armstead said she’d faced many hurdles: slander against her character and intentions, court battles, and a general lack of support from the very community that purportedly requested her help.

However, Armstead insisted she wasn’t leaving due to these outside pressures. Rather, Armstead said the district was a “sinking ship” she could no longer help.

“I am not leaving because people are running me away, because of people scaring me, because of people pushing me in a position of fear where I feel like I can’t go on any longer, or because I’ve been asked. I am leaving because, even when I’m trying to fight for what is righteous and what is uncomfortably true, I am being treated as though I’m trying to destroy the entity with the intention of serving students,” said Armstead. “I was never here to be served, and I wasn’t here to serve adults. I was here to serve children. So after five months of constant, continuous situations letting me know exactly what they really want to have happen here in this district and in this community, I can no longer be a part of this sinking ship.”

Armstead emphasized that she wouldn’t show any thanks, gratitude, or appreciation for the opportunity to serve on the board. She expressed hope that the district would hire more people of color; she clarified that these hires shouldn’t be for the color of their skin, but for their ability.

“[I] will not say thank you for the time that I’ve served here, or express any gratitude or appreciation, because for the five months that I have been here, I have been treated as though I am not an expert in the field, like I have no idea what I’m talking about, and it’s sad that even a person who is invested in the field of education cannot come and help to improve education,” said Armstead.

Board President Danielle Clymer thanked Armstead for her service as a member, and for getting LESD where they are today.

No other members issued responses to Armstead’s resignation during the meeting.

On Wednesday, Armstead appeared on a “Wednesday Chat” episode with Jeanne Casteen,  a failed candidate for Maricopa County Superintendent. Armstead clarified that the final straw had to do with reception to her stance on COVID restrictions. She said she took issue with people challenging her as a professional.

Armstead added that she was tired of her attempts to help falling on deaf ears.

Tuesday’s meeting, starting from Armstrong’s resignation, can be viewed here.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com