Before Muscogee County School Board Chairwoman Kia Chambers even opened the floor for public comments on Monday night, she played a video about change and encouraged those in attendance to be respectful as she anticipated a night filled with fiery exchanges.
Up for discussion was the reinstatement of teacher Tammy Carnley into the classroom after admitting to using a racial slur in a conversation with an African-American student in 2017. But it was the so-called body shaming comments by board member Frank Myers towards private citizen Maggie Reese on Facebook that dominated the conversation, with folks on both sides holding nothing back.
“What he said and did was wrong. It was more than wrong-it was rude and it was mean and crass, and boy was it dumb,” said Columbus resident Carol Jameson.
That was one of many reactions to the Facebook scandal involving school board member Frank Myers and Columbus resident Maggie Reese.
“On Wednesday, July 18, a local school board representative went to my personal Facebook page, took a picture of myself in a bathing suit, zoomed in on my ear end, cropped it and told me I needed to lose about thirty,” said Reese.
With supporters in tow, Reese asserted her power in spite of the online attack, Myers’ subsequent apology and board recommendation to update its social media policy. But not everyone was in her corner.
“All we are seeing with the new policy is an attempt to punish a fellow board member for the sole purpose of political retaliation,” said another Columbus resident. “Again, it has nothing to do with educating our children.”
“It is appalling how everybody is trying to tar and feather him for making a comment on a public photo,” said Michelle Devenshaw.
“How can we ask our students to treat each other with kindness and respect when the adults who are elected to represent them are bullies themselves?,” asked Reese.
“I’ve ruffled some feathers,” said Myers. “I’ve clearly made a lot of enemies. But my heart has always been in the right place. My mouth may have gotten me in trouble a time or two…but that was a bone headed move I made on July 18th.”
And one final reminder about decorum and purpose as the tension began to attract the attention of police in the room.
“Let’s not attack people, let’s attack issues for the purpose of making sure we provide an excellent education for all students in Muscogee County,,” said Chambers.
As a result of the Facebook incident, The Muscogee County School Board has elected to update its social media policy. They are expected to take a vote on the final language in 30 days.