Chesapeake School Board issues statement regarding chairwoman's Facebook share
by Mike Connors
The School Board on Thursday addressed a controversial Facebook post shared by its chairwoman, saying the board does not discriminate.
The board's written statement says it treats everyone with respect and welcomes feedback from the public.
The post Christie New Craig shared last month is a cartoon that reads, "Muslims hate pork, beer, dogs, bikinis, Jesus, and freedom of speech. My question is, what the hell do they come to America for?!"
Craig has repeatedly said she did not comment on the post or endorse it in any way.
"I did not post that maliciously," she said last week.
On Thursday, she said she does not intend to resign. Other board members either could not be reached Thursday night or declined additional comment.
The board met in closed session Monday to address the post, according to a division news release issued Thursday.
In part, the statement reads: "Together, the Board and its administrative staff strive to treat all employees and our students, parents and community members with the highest degree of respect. In doing so, the school system adheres to the principles of equal opportunity in employment and student achievement for every person working in and attending our schools."
The statement later continues, "This post has had no effect on our commitment to maintaining equal opportunity and nondiscrimination standards. The School Board welcomes and will consider communications from any person or organization with an interest in maintaining and/or improving the highest possible system of K-12 public education."
After the board's regular session Monday night, Craig said she did not mean to offend anyone. She also said she'd be happy to speak with any concerned community members.
A flurry of online discussion followed a Virginian-Pilot story that ran Wednesday. Many comments defended Craig, such as one reading, "This is the U.S.A. There should not be consequences for exercising your constitutional rights."
Others in the community have expressed concerns about Craig's decision to share the cartoon. Heather Barnum, who has three children in Chesapeake Public Schools, said Thursday she strongly supports the right to free speech, but sharing the post shows ignorance. She would like Craig to apologize.
"Being in a position of elected office requires a higher standard," she said.
Craig was elected to the School Board in 2010. She became its chairwoman early in 2014.
Mike Connors, 757-222-5217, email@example.com, Twitter: @MikeConnors14
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