Speakers defend Chesapeake School Board chairwoman
by Mike Connors
A strong majority of speakers at the School Board meeting Monday voiced support for board Chairwoman Christie New Craig, following her sharing of a Facebook post some viewed as offensive.
The post 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 did not speak on the issue at the meeting but has said she did not comment on the post or endorse it in any way.
Many public speakers Monday said they have never heard Craig speak poorly of anyone.
"She wants to educate all the children of all the people," Kevin Pettrey of Chesapeake said.
Other speakers said the matter was one of free speech and that Craig had the right to share the post. She did so on her personal Facebook page, which is not connected to Chesapeake Public Schools.
"Self-censorship is a very dangerous thing," Nelson Velez of Chesapeake said.
More than two dozen people spoke on the topic. While most supported Craig, some said the post was hurtful and insensitive.
Some of the critics came from outside Chesapeake.
"It sends the wrong message to our children," Obaid Jafri of Yorktown said.
No other board members addressed the issue during Monday's meeting. The board released a statement earlier this month after meeting in a closed session to address the matter.
The statement read in part, "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."
Craig was elected to the School Board in 2010. She became its chairwoman early in 2014.
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