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Some citizens say board member should resign

Several citizens and educators addressed the Charlotte County School Board, continuing to ask that something be done following a Facebook post by an elected school board member in July that spawned a peaceful protest.

School board member Teresa Dunaway who was not in attendance at the Tuesday, Aug. 11 meeting, shared a news story on her Facebook page on July 28, about the George Floyd Hologram Memorial Project making its first stop in Richmond. In doing so, Dunaway made a comment several citizens and educators say was racist.

The post by Dunaway on the news story about the event said, “Stupid as hell. Yes, I said it!”

Following the comment, several citizens, students and educators said the school board member should be removed or resign her position.

Dunaway, who represents the Bacon/Saxe District, said, “The things I post on my page are my opinions only. They are not my family, in-laws, friends, or neighbors. They do not speak for me, and they are not responsible for what I post. It is just my opinion.”

Rebecca Daly addressed the board to express her concerns about the post saying Dunaway needs to resign.

“The undercurrents of racism run throughout Charlotte County and the Facebook post and comments on it are proof of that.” Daly said. “As happens so often, weak excuses are made to justify or explain away a hateful act. The objections to the posts were met with defiance by its author.  No remorse.  Not an apology.  Just continued defiance. If those we elect cannot represent everyone in their district equally, regardless of their color, gender, heritage, sexual orientation, or religion, then they shouldn’t be in that office. Intolerance will no longer be met with silence in Charlotte County as it has in the past. It will be called out every time it happens for exactly what it is, wrong.  It is time to let go of the past and embrace a future where we are all simply human and equal.”

Emily Preuss-Anderson, a teacher at CCPS, told the board she felt she could not be silent on the issue and that what a school board member posted for  public view was not building community or prioritizing relationships, and the comments create a wedge between them and the people they are charged with representing

“This individual represents an area with a high population of minorities,” Preuss-Anderson said. “Their comment on the George Floyd memorial being and I quote, ‘Stupid as hell! Yes, I said it!’ was not a direct racial slur, but it does give insight into how they feel about racial equity and justice.

“Leaders in power have a direct impact on their constituent’s lives. Leaders make choices daily that affect the people they represent. We must hold our elected officials accountable for their offensive public comments. When someone is offensive or makes a mistake, they should take ownership and make amends.”

Parent and CCPS educator Monique Williams who has been outspoken in recent weeks concerning racial and equity issues for all, spoke to say the Facebook post was unacceptable and that the behavior has no place in CCPS’s leadership.

“We all have our different political views and opinions, but cultural and racial sensitivity, social justice and equity are not opinions and a matter of politics or debate. It’s a human experience.” Williams said. “When we look at our school division, we are among the best in Region 8. We may not be able to offer the same resources and connections as some big schools for a rural school, but what we can and do offer has led to great outcomes for our students. We have dedicated educators and staff, good leadership, some of the best SOL scores in our region, and even the creativity to make the best of the worst possible situations – like COVID-19 and distance learning. We want people to know CCPS for all of those good things. Not the bad.”

Following the comments board members did not discuss the matter.

Superintendent Robbie Mason said the following day on Wednesday, Aug. 12, “As previously stated, I have no comment.”