GROSSE POINTE, Mich – A parent caught everyone in attendance off guard when she used a racial slur and profanity in her public comments during a Grosse Pointe Public Schools Board meeting.
Some board members are receiving community blowback for not acting swiftly after the remarks were made.
“Well, you know what? I have two young white boys. One of which got in trouble for saying the n-word on Snapchat,” said the parent.
Monday’s Grosse Pointe Public Schools Board meeting was pretty run of the mill until this parent spoke during public comment. She was simultaneously upset over some elements of the district’s recent diversity meeting and also about the fallout from her son’s suspension.
“Our address was put out there, and we were threatened all because he said the (n-word),” the parent said. “I’m sorry this happens to be in every song. The FCC, the John Conners the who’s who, they use (n-word), they basically are allowing this and our kids.”
“Excuse me -- you can finish but watch the language,” said a board member, cutting the woman off.
Afterward, some of the board members addressed the comments.
“I’ve never heard the n-word used in front of our colleagues here, and this is very upsetting,” said Grosse Pointe Public Schools Board member Margaret Weertz. “And I don’t -- I have the floor. We need to talk about politics. We don’t disparage people -- we don’t use slurs of any kind.”
“And the argument that it can be heard in other places is the most offensive argument and has led to countless atrocities in our history,” said Grosse Pointe Public Schools Superintendent Jon Dean.
Greg Bowens of the Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods NAACP received several calls Tuesday about this, and many of the callers were upset more board members didn’t speak out.
“This idea that you see something racist right in front of your face and you don’t address it is a poor reflection on the school board and the school district because it means you don’t care,” Bowens said. “I think she could’ve made her point without making those comments.”
Board of Education President Joseph Herd issued the following statement on Wednesday:
As Board President, I feel compelled to address a situation that occurred at our meeting Monday, January 24th. At this meeting a resident used a racial slur and profanity during the public comment portion of the meeting. It is critically important that our entire community understands that this behavior has no place in our school district.
Here are some key points:
If you have watched any board meeting during my time as President, you have seen me emphasize how critical it is for us to model civil discourse and listen to all voices, even when we disagree. By nature and professional training, I am a peacekeeper. But do not think my willingness to listen means I or the board agree with the use of such language. We condemn this language. In fact, this only underscores the importance of our collective work set forth in our new strategic plan.
Our expectations are high for our children. We hold our community to those same standards of excellence.President Herd