by Max Brantley
Clint McCance announced his intention to resign from the Midland School Board last night in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. The story and a video of his interview are here. Heckuva job on this story by CNN.
Thanks to readers who updated all on this on yesterday's thread on the story after I'd called it quits for the night.
Was McCance "bullied" into resigning, someone asked last night? I think there's probably a good story on what pressures were brought to bear to bring this proper conclusion about. The pressure from the state Education Department's disapproval of McCance's anti-gay remarks was critical, I'd guess. Legally, schools must provide safe environments. McCance's remarks gave every reason to a gay child not to feel safe in the Midland schools under his leadership. As events have shown — and contrary to some remarks made by local people — gay kids have attended, and probably currently do attend, the Midland schools.
He's apologized now for his remarks and his use of words. "I didn't bring honor to what I was about," McCance told Cooper. He said he'd resign for the distractions he'd caused the district and might run again years down the line. Witness to his sincerity will be critical during that time, naturally. As McCance learned graphically, you never know who might be listening or reading and you can't underestimate how quickly news travels, even from tiny Pleasant Plains.
The Human Rights Campaign welcomed the apology for the words, though noted it doesn't address the animus behind the words. That isn't so readily cast off. The HRC also released a letter sent by Midland Superintendent Dean Stanley early in the controversy to Anthony Turner, the former Midland student now living in Canada, who revealed McCance's remarks.
McCance's experience inevitably will be resented by those in the community who share the outlook he expressed originally, if not in such graphic terms. Following is a video Brian Chilson took yesterday of local people who appeared to demonstrate against those calling for McCance's resignation.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:
"Clint McCance's decision to resign from the school board is a step forward for the community he represents. We are hopeful the wounds that were inflicted will soon be healed," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "What remains troubling is that Mr. McCance focused his regret on particular word choices not the animus behind those words. We hope he will take this time to reflect not only on the language he used but on what he can do to make the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people better."
Text of the email and letter sent by Midland School Superintendent Dean Stanley to R. Anthony Turner:
I have been out of state but wanted to let you know that I need to respond to the letter you sent me this past week. We obviously have been dealing with the situation for the last few days and wanted to share with you a letter regarding this situation.
Dear Mr. Turner:
I am writing in response to your letter in which you commented on a board member’s facebook posting. I am sorry to make your acquaintance under these circumstances but proud Midland was your alma mater and that you care enough about young students to write.
I cannot respond for Mr. McCance. While he is a school board member, he does not represent the board or speak for the board when he posts on his facebook page. I can only assume the views he expressed on facebook, about which you wrote, are his personal views. Those views are not consistent with the views of the school district or the school board. Our board makes known its position on issues by adopting policies and the board has not and would not adopt policies similar to the postings you referenced on facebook. The board’s official position, expressed in our mission statement, is that every student is someone special.
As administrator of the school district I have an obligation to care for every student, an obligation to every parent to care for every son or daughter. Every student life is equally valuable without regard to race, sex, or sexual orientation, religious belief or affiliation, without regard to disability, ability, performance or non performance, or whether they want an education or don’t. Everyone really is someone special and deserves to be treated with care and respect.
In reference to the remedies you suggested in response to Mr. McCance’s postings, there is no recall of school board members. The ballot box is the remedy for patrons that are dissatisfied with a school board member. I can certainly suggest to the board that it affirm its commitment to all students as that commitment is expressed in its mission statement and affirm its commitment to eradicating bullying.
Midland School District - Superintendent