BOE deserves caring representatives


Taylor Spencer, Editor-in-Cheif

The district’s governmental body, the Rockwood Board of Education, advocates for the community’s education by exercising the powers delegated to them by the Missouri State Legislature. From setting the budget to adopting policies, their extensive influence means they bear a crucial responsibility to represent the district and the community in the best possible way. Their pursuit for the betterment of the district is reflected in their mission statement, which says “We do whatever it takes to ensure all students realize their potential.” But what happens when a member of the board proudly disparages communities that they swore to protect?

On Aug. 23, Board of Education Director Jessica Clark identified herself as a board member when speaking at a town hall meeting hosted by Real Talk Radio Network and went on to make disparaging remarks about transgender and LGBTQ+ students. Her insults toward these groups are considered harassment, which clashes with board policy 2130, which prohibits harassing individuals based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite these words being outside of a school board event, policy 0340 states that board members are to “avoid inappropriate or disparaging remarks in or out of board meetings,” which means Clark’s comments cannot be excused as the exercise of her First Amendment freedom of speech. At the Board of Education meeting on Sept. 1, the other board members condemned her words by voting to strip her of her committees, which was followed by a district statement condemning Clark’s remarks. The board did all it could to negate the negative impacts of Clark’s words, but she is still a sitting member of the board. This is because Clark is an elected official, so the only way she could be off the board is to resign (which she already refused to do at the board meeting on Sept. 1 where she stood by her remarks) or by a recall election. According to House Bill No. 683, a recall election for a school board meeting can be held when a petition is signed by the same amount as one percent of voters who voted at the last Board of Education election.

But when Clark continues to sit on the board and have a vote, how can the students impacted by Clark’s remarks expect to feel safe and valued at school when a member sworn to prioritize their education proudly disparages them? And why should a director of the Board of Education, an individual at the highest level of students’ education, still sit on the board despite her full ownership of her disparaging remarks? Regardless of one’s political affiliation, negative speech directed at a group one is supposed to be protecting simply isn’t acceptable. It’s not a matter of politics, but rather that Clark made hateful comments about a subsect of students part of the “all” she swore to educate and protect when sworn in as a board member. The Talon believes a recall election is an absolute necessity because the community deserves a representative who truly cares about the betterment of all children.