From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM — Donna Pike, who is a member of the Jefferson County Board of Education, was asked to resign following accusations of racism. Pike, who is from Irondale, is Place 1 on the board.
The Board met on Wednesday for a special-called meeting in which a resolution was passed asking Pike to resign, who posted images in regard to Roseanne Barr and Valerie Jarrett, a controversial subject in recent times that led to Barr’s show being cancelled by ABC.
The image posted by Pike is of Jarrett with the caption reading: “No! I’m not black! I’m Valerie Verrett (sic) and I’m a Muslim born in Iran!”
“Recent social media postings by Board member Donna Pike are divisive if not inflammatory, have garnered unflattering local, statewide, and national media attention and a negative public response, and have diverted time and attention from the District’s pressing education needs and challenges,” the resolution by the Board reads.
“The postings in questions are repugnant to the Board’s values and undermine public confidence in the Board’s willingness and ability to provide equitable educational and employment opportunities in an inclusive and racially unbiased environment,” the resolution further states.
The members who were in attendance at today’s meeting were Board President Oscar Mann, Board President Dr. Martha Bouyer and board member Ronnie Dixon.
A statement was released by Mann:
“I proudly serve as President of the JEFCOED Board but I cannot take actions alone – that can only be done through a vote of the board itself. And I cannot speak definitively on behalf of the other board members. They will have to form and express their own opinions. However, Mrs. Pike’s position is also her own and not that of the Board.
As for me, I do not agree with Mrs. Pike’s posts and believe that it is unacceptable for a Board member and representative of the 36,000 students in our district, to engage in such divisive tactics. Our time and energy as board members should be devoted to providing opportunities for every one of our students, regardless of their race, their faith, or where they are from. We should be focused on inspiring all students to learn all they can and to achieve great things. Posts such as the ones we were shown at the meeting can only detract from that effort and have no place in our school system.
As for further action, I am reviewing the law and the options that could be available and then it will be up to the Board to decide the most appropriate course of action.”
The following is a statement by Superintendent Craig Pouncey:
“Over the last few days, we have received a number of requests for comment on the news stories concerning Facebook posts by one of our board’s members. The Facebook posts which were shared on a personal account and the comments which have followed were not made on behalf of the Jefferson County School District. The shared posts reflect the thoughts and actions of one board member. Other board members may choose to offer their own thoughts and opinions and the board could ultimately choose to address the matter as a body. That will be up to them. Regardless, I wanted to offer my thoughts about what this school district is about and what we believe.
On behalf of the teachers, administrators, and support staff that serve your children and our communities, let me share our commitment to every child in our school district. The Jefferson County Board of Education takes pride in its diversity. Our mission is to educate and serve the 36,000 students in our schools, regardless of race, faith, or background. We believe that all students are special and talented. We also believe that all children should be given the opportunity to learn, grow and flourish no matter where they are from, what color skin they have, or what they believe. All students and families deserve respect. In our schools, we strive to lead by example and teach our kids that when there are differences, to embrace them and try to understand without judgment or condescension. Our goal is to make every child feel safe, secure, and appreciated. When we fall short, we own it and work harder. This is the standard we aspire to meet and the expectation we have established throughout our district.
I would like to thank our families and communities that have trusted us with teaching their children. We look forward to serving the diverse needs of the many families and communities throughout Jefferson County.”