'Lethal force': School board member's social media under fire
Four people have launched formal complaints against Canby School Board member Stefani Carlson regarding her comment of agreement on a social media post that mentioned "lethal force to reestablish liberty and return to Constitutional government" and included the phrase "communist, China-owned douchbag leftard [sic]."
Two community members, including Carlson herself, submitted related complaints against Superintendent Trip Goodall for his public response on the topic.
This isn't Carlson's first time drawing controversy. When she ran for the school board in 2019, members of the LGBTQ community were concerned, KOIN 6 News reported, that Carlson said she was "in deep opposition" to a proclamation supporting transgender people.
The board will consider the complaints on March 4.
Four file against Stefani Carlson
The social media post on Jan. 5, one day before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, said: "Is there someone in a position of actual authority who can make the decision that lethal force is required to reestablish liberty and return to Constitutional government, or do we just decide that on our own? Asking for everyone who's not a communist, China-owned douchbag leftard [sic]."
Mayor Brian Hodson took heat for "loving" the post. He released a public apology saying he did it without thinking and shouldn't have. He said he has a special needs older sister and "abhor(s)" derogatory language in reference to such persons. He also said he does not condone violence or lack of respect for government or country.
Carlson is still under fire for her comment on the post, which was: "Read your comment aloud and everyone in my house loves everything you say."
Carlson did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but she did address the issue in her complaint against Goodall, when she appeared to retract the idea of loving "everything" in the post.
"I agreed with the post's line of questioning, not the choice verbiage," Carlson said. "How shameful that my agreeing with a valid question has led to this denigration. I would never endorse the violence that happened in Washington, just like I would never advocate the continued violence on the streets of Portland and other cities over the past 10 months. Any insinuation to this is absurd and repulsive."
But the four complainants, including two parents, a teacher and a retired couple, want to hold Carlson accountable.
One complaint came from parent Melodyjoy Dawley, acknowledging that Carlson did not make the "insulting comments herself, but she affirmed them publicly." Dawley asked for Carlson to be removed from the school board.
Another complaint came from retired Canby residents Jim and Darlene Gadberry. They labeled the response to the Facebook post "very inappropriate for a currently seated school board member," and they asked for Carlson to resign immediately.
Ninety-One School teacher Sara Love submitted the third complaint.
"I am dismayed that a school board member, who was elected to serve all members of the community, would publicly condone violence against those with differing viewpoints," Love said.
Love also called for Carlson to step down.
The final complaint was from parent Sara Fender, who said her concerns about Carlson extend beyond the one social media post and have been present since Carlson announced plans to run for the board position.
"It is my understanding that when an individual serves a community in a public and/or regulated capacity, it is that individual's responsibility to be aware of one's biases and use that awareness as a self-monitoring tool," Fender said, "to ensure that this bias does not legally or ethically negatively impact the organization or the people that are being served through the position."
Fender went on to say that Carlson has expressed her personal opinions at a city council meeting, on her personal profile, on others' profiles, on community pages on social media and at school board meetings.
"Through this growing body of examples, I am concerned that Stefani's biases are impeding her ability to serve in the capacity in which she is required as a school board member," Fender said.
Fender contended Carlson's bias shows when she represents certain students and underrepresents or discounts others. She said Carlson's actions violate the school board guidance, oath of office and code of conduct. She requested that Carlson "reflect on her ability and/or willingness to hold the position in which she was elected for a public school district." She also asked Goodall and the board to take whatever action they deemed necessary.
Superintendent weighs in
Goodall weighed in on the matter via a public statement in response to a request for comment from The Canby Current.
In the statement, Goodall did not mention Carlson by name but noted that he was made aware of the "post that called for violence" and a board member's "apparent comment of support."
Goodall suggested the board member's actions depart from the board's civility policy, which says that a safe, civil environment is essential to student and staff achievement and that uncivil conduct interferes with the teaching and learning process.
"Any district leader or staff member who does not share this same commitment does not represent our values," Goodall said in the statement, "and should evaluate why they choose to represent our district, our staff, our students and our community.
"Please know, the individual actions of a school board member reflect their individual beliefs and do not reflect the position of the Canby School District."
Two file against superintendent
Carlson and one community resident, Kevin Starrett, took Goodall's statement as an attack on Carlson, and they both filed formal complaints against Goodall.
Carlson said Goodall released the statement without discussing the situation with her, contrary to Board Chair Angi Dilke's instructions.
She took issue with Goodall's assertion that she agreed with a call to violence.
"This is insulting, disrespectful and absolutely false," Carlson said in her complaint. "As the district's chief executive officer, it is irresponsible to gather information derived from the interpretation of a social media post solely to publicly defame me without even the common courtesy of reaching out to me. Not only is it foolhardy to deliberately attack one of his supervisors, but it also directly reflects his apparent disdain for his board of directors, to whom he reports. One would hope that he does not make other vital district decisions or personnel determinations based on flippant second-hand social media conjecture."
Carlson is calling for "at minimum" a public apology.
Starrett called Goodall's statement a "vicious and self-serving attack … directly from the playbook of the Marxists." He also defended Carlson's character.
"Anyone with even the most passing familiarity with board member Carlson knows she is a person of outstanding integrity and character," Starrett said in his complaint, "a valued member of our community and committed to the children of the district in a way to which frauds like Goodall could never even hope to aspire."
Starrett said he demands Goodall's immediate resignation and "replacement with a person of honor."
Goodall declined to comment further about his statement or whether he would issue an apology.
The school board discussed all six complaints in a private executive session on Feb. 4. They came back into open session that night to vote on whether they would like to further investigate any of the complaints before making decisions. Carlson abstained from voting, but all other board members agreed they did not need to collect further information.
The board will again discuss the complaints in a closed session on March 4. According to Dilkes, actions on the complaints, if there are any, must take place in open session after the executive session is complete.
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