Chelsea school board member issues an apology for social media post
In response to the allegations and complaint made by a group of community members, Chelsea school board member Tammy Lehman issued an apology at the January 11 board of education meeting while the school board set out some steps to move forward in a positive direction.
These developments come in the wake of the Dec. 14 board meeting when the school board asked Lehman to respond in writing by Jan. 2 to the allegations.
Lehman did formally respond to the allegations on Jan. 1 and then she had further opportunity to respond during the closed session of the board of education, which took place during the Jan. 11 meeting.
According to the resolution that was unanimously approved on Jan. 11 by the Chelsea school board, Lehman stated in her written response that she no longer uses her public social media account and that any social media accounts she uses are private accounts.
During the Jan. 11 meeting, the school board went into closed session for the purpose of a legal opinion regarding complaints. This session, which is permitted under law, lasted around two hours.
Coming out of the closed session and into the open meeting, board members were given an opportunity to speak and give comments.
This is when Lehman issued her apology.
“I understand that one of my private social media posts has been considered racially insensitive and upon being notified I immediately deleted this post. I apologize to the community,” Lehman said.
After this, the school board then unanimously approved a resolution that came out of the closed session.
The resolution states members of the community have alleged that board member Lehman made a racially insensitive post on her private social media page and these community members have also alleged that Lehman excluded certain members of the community from accessing and commenting on her public social media accounts.
The board’s resolution further states:
“Now, therefore, be it resolved that:
1. The board recognizes that Board Member Lehman has the right to express her views consistent with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, including the right to speak as a private citizen and as a school board member on matters of public concern.
2. The board directs Board Member Lehman that any future use of her public social media accounts (those maintained by the District or those used by Ms. Lehman in her official capacity as a board member) shall comply with the United States and Michigan Constitution, applicable state and federal laws, and Board Policy. In particular, if Board Member Lehman reactivates her public social media accounts, she may not limit or censor public access to those accounts except for reasons that are permitted by law and Board Policy.
3. The Board’s Statement on Equity states in part: “We commit to using our positions to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the values of diversity, belonging, equity, and inclusion. We condemn racism and discrimination in any form. We will tirelessly work to interrupt and end harmful or inequitable practices and policies, eliminate implicit and explicit biases, and create truly inclusive, culturally responsive school environments where all adults and children feel a sense of belonging.” The board hereby reaffirms its commitment to the Statement on Equity.
4. The Board hereby establishes a work group to consider whether the Board’s bylaws, policies, practices, and procedures should be revised to address Board Members’ use of social media. The board authorizes the Board President to appoint no more than three Board members to the work group. The Board authorizes and directs the Superintendent to consult with the Board President about the work group, to appoint other members to the work group as she and the Board President determine appropriate, and to consult with legal counsel as necessary for purposes of conducting the work group’s business.
5. The Board understands the importance of working together in an environment of trust, mutual respect, and understanding of shared purpose. In that spirit, the Board directs the Superintendent to coordinate a board development session with a recognized authority on school board dynamics to review the appropriate use of social media while holding office as a board member. The board encourages Board Member Lehman to actively participate in that professional development session.”
There were no public comments relating to this matter made during the Jan. 11 meeting.
For more details and background, and to see the previous story on this, go to this link: