by Max Brantley
Dr. Tom Kimbrell, the state Education Department director, has stiffened the state response to the hostile comments about gay people made by Midland School Board memberr Clint McCance on his Facebook page. Kimbrell suggests that McCance should resign from the School Board.
I strongly condemn the statements that appeared on Mr. Clint McCance’s Facebook page. These comments in no way represent the viewpoints of the thousands of dedicated public school board members, administrators, faculty, staff and students in Arkansas.
“Every student in Arkansas must be educated in a nurturing environment, free from discrimination or harassment. The statements attributed to Mr. McCance constitute a significant departure from statements we expect from our school leaders. The divisiveness and disruption of these comments cause me to seriously question the ability of Mr. McCance to remain as an effective member of the Midland School Board.
“I have been in close contact with the Midland School District superintendent and school board president. They are aware of my strong feelings concerning this matter and I know they share in my grave concern. Along with the members of my staff, I will continue to closely monitor this situation.
“Despite these unfortunate events, it is my utmost hope that the students in the Midland School District and across the State of Arkansas clearly understand that they are all valued and have intellectual and human worth, and they deserve the best education we can offer.”
The Midland School District has issued a statement, posted on its website, disassociating itself from McCance's words. See it on the jump.
I've written extensively on this already today (other developments, what's believed to be a McCance photo and other news can be found at the preceding link) and spoken twice briefly with McCance, who's so far declined to comment. He's experienced some fierce reaction and expressed to me a concern for his family. I regret any threatening remarks that may have been made to him. But as I said on MSNBC interview, there are millions of families with gay children who want to know their children are safe when they go to school, too. A hostile School Board member does not a welcoming environment make. It is past time for local officials in Midland to provide evidence that one exists in Pleasant Plains, preferably beginning with McCance's apology and resignation from the School Board.
I should say, too, that I've been overwhelmed by e-mail, Facebook comments and phone calls from people who've seen our coverage on the web or the MSNBC interview. You should read the mail I've received from gay people — some adult, some not; some out, some not. Words matter. One note I received:
I was a student at Midland from 1985 to 1990. I am a lesbian. I am outraged at this man's attitude, and I will personally be there tomorrow morning to let the school know how I feel. Thank you for helping to bring awareness about this issue. I really appreciate your support. It's good to know that people like you are out there. The GLBT kids at this school, and every school, deserve better. This man should resign immediately.
MIDLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT STATEMENT
For Immediate Release:
The Midland School District, Board of Directors, administration, faculty, and staff do not support or condone the comments Mr. Clint McCance posted on his personal social networking page. Mr. McCance was not acting as an agent of the school board, but as a private citizen when this comment was posted. This post does not reflect the thoughts of the board or administration of the Midland School District.
The district strives to foster an environment that discourages all forms of bullying and an environment that encourages a safe and productive educational climate of all of our students. The district is very diligent in pursuing and addressing bullying of any variety on our campuses.
Dean Stanley, Superintendent
Midland School District