The Scappoose School Board has taken action following public concerns about alleged comments made by board member Tim Brooks on his Facebook page.
The Chronicle has reached out to the Scappoose School Board Chair and to Mr. Brooks for comments. As of Thursday morning, July 2, we had not received responses to our questions.
The following is from the public record of the Scappoose School Board meeting held on June 22 concerning Mr. Boooks.
Chair Michelle Graham proposed that the complaint against a public officer be moved up to item 3.0. Kessi moved to approve as stated. Phil Lager seconded the motion. Brooks, Jurasek, Kessi, Maloney, Lager and Graham voted in favor. Motion passed 6-0 with Hoag not voting due to connectivity issues.
2.0 Comments From Visitors (30 minutes maximum total time) Michelle Graham The Board welcomes visitors to our meetings, and values comments from district patrons that improve the quality of education for students. The Board, at their discretion, will recognize comments from the audience during discussion for agenda items. However, the Comments from Visitors section is intended for items that do not appear as an agenda item. We must require, however, that complaints be directed through the administration for resolution.
Comments made during this session must be free of abusive language, personal attacks on district personnel, and not directed towards any department which, due to its low staffing, would amount to an attack by affect naming district personnel. We also ask that presentations be limited to five (5) minutes per person and thirty (30) minutes total for public comments. (Please state your name and address before speaking) (Full comments are listed at the end of the minutes)
Jennifer Kilman: Keeping the performing arts programs supported is essential for a healthy and productive school system and community.
Marissa Liao: Change the school mascot to something other than a race and culture of human beings. Katelynn Bond: Change in the Scappoose mascot.
Emma Kessi: Drop our race-based mascot
Gary Liao: Support of changing the school mascot.
Anne Marie Kessi: I am writing to request that our schools and school district stop using the race-based term Indians to describe the student body or use as a mascot in our schools.
3.0 Hear a Complaint Against a Public Officer Michelle Graham
The Board will welcome public comments from a maximum of five (5) persons on behalf of the complainant and from a maximum of five (5) persons on behalf of the respondent of the complaint. Each person will get a maximum of five (5) minutes to speak. These are email comments that have been submitted to the Board by noon on Monday, June 22.
Chair Graham read the process for hearing a complaint against a public officer.
The Scappoose Education Association (SEA) requested that all inflammatory posts be removed, refrain from publicly posting information that may be in conflict with the Scappoose School District’s (SSD) mission and values, a letter of direction be given to Mr. Brooks to cease and desist hateful speech and the promotion of violence as long as he is an elected official of the SSD, they also believe at a minimum that Mr. Brooks owes those that work at and attend schools in the District, as well as members of the community, an apology in which he recognizes and acknowledges the pain and harm that his posts have caused.
SEA also asked that the SSD Board of Directors adopt a resolution reinforcing the values and mission of the SSD. The resolution should reinforce its support of all students, staff, and the community they serve regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, mental and physical ability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, political affiliation, or religion.
Mark Sprenger, Scappoose Education Association, stated that their concerns are rooted in the expectations, the policies and procedures that have been violated which as a member of the SSD board of directors he, (Brooks), agreed to uphold when he accepted the oath of being a board member. They had concerns with the statements, threats, and violence endorsed by Mr. Brooks on social media.
The Association contended that posts and images convey a message that is contrary to the values of providing a safe, trusted, and respected environment for students that perpetuates any positivity in culture. The integrity and character of the board of directors is in doubt. The SSD Board of Directors has adopted work policies with expectations related to the use of social media for all of its employees. Sprenger stated that Mr. Brooks should hold himself to the same standard of the policies on which he votes and that staff members are expected to uphold.
The Association asked the Board to give consideration to the details of his post, the graphic content, and potential disruption to the District. They acknowledge and value that we all have a right to free speech but the right to free speech does not mean our speech does not come without consequences. The Association asked that an elected official who represents our schools hold himself to the policies, procedures, and shared values that are related to that position of service.
Board member, Tim Brooks, stated that his Facebook page in no way speaks for the Board or the District. The conversations he engages in and places he goes are his personal life and business. His posts expressed his personal views and it has never interfered with his position as a school board member.
One of the referenced posts cited on this complaint, was reposted out of frustration and that he simply shared from what others had posted. It was of rioters and looters being sprayed with a hose to stop them from destroying property and physically harming people. That some may have a personal view that this post was inciting violence but his personal view was to immediately end the ongoing violence and criminal activity without bullets flying. The next picture was of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He said this was in reference to the alleged treason that has been committed by them against our current President and country. It says that our forefathers would have hung them for treason. To him it was a bold statement that says they have constantly worked to get our current President out of office with lies and stories that no one can prove and was truly treason in his eyes. Once again, he stated that it was his opinion which he is entitled to. His posts were shared with friends on Facebook with no intention to treat any board member, staff, students or anyone else in the district with disrespect. To him we all have opinions and we’re entitled to them.
To him, a discussion is what helps others to maybe understand where you’re coming from if they’re open to at least listening. He feels that you can’t just silence everyone you disagree with. He has always prided himself on being honest and straightforward in his convictions, faith and family. He is serving on the school board with the purpose of getting the best education for the students of this community.
Brooks admitted that it has been an interesting and often painstaking journey. He shared his respect our teachers, administrators and all staff and that he knows what a tough job they have. He respects the students and their parents and has voted as a board member in ways that honor the families that he serves. He stated
that he will continue to do this as long as he is a board member or at least until the end of his term. Brooks shared, that the easiest thing for him to do would be to resign but that he wasn’t elected because he was soft.
3.2 Public Comment (Full comments are listed at the end of the minutes) Tamatha Hanke, Scappoose: Concern about a current standing board member, Tim Brooks.
Julia Edge, Portland and teacher in the Scappoose School District: Please ask Mr. Brooks to step down from his position on the Scappoose School Districts School Board.
Robby Backus, Warren: Calling Mr. Brooks to resign
Sabbath Mikelson, Warren: Board member Brooks must resign.
Madalyn Reese, Scappoose: Call for the resignation of Tim Brooks
Johanna Myers, Scappoose: Support of Mr. Brooks.
David Krupsky: We must help Mr. Brooks understand the depths of his comments while also upholding his constitutional right to speak freely on a public platform.
Tanya Francis, Scappoose: We will do this community a great disservice by removing Mr. Brooks as a board member. Curt Francis, Scappoose: Mr. Brooks’ should have been more careful.
Ivy Freimuth, Scappoose: Tim Brooks is an asset to our district. Thank you, Tim Brooks, for your continued service.
Elida Brooks, Scappoose: Tim ran for the school board because of the kids and a lack of diversity on the Board. He fights for the kids even when he knows that he may get out voted. Anyone can check past board minutes and recordings. He votes for what is right and just and doesn’t just rubber stamp a vote.
Chair Graham stated that the Board will entertain a motion and possible discussion as to whether any further investigation on this complaint is warranted. Kessi moved that no further investigation is needed. Maloney seconded the motion. Kessi stated that he didn’t hear that he (Brooks) didn’t do any of this so the Board doesn’t need to waste taxpayer’s money to investigate. Motion carried unanimously.
Violation of board policy BBF - Board Member Standards of Conduct #21, when posting online or to social media, Board members will treat and refer to other Board members, staff, students and the public with respect, and will not post confidential information about students, staff or district business. Kessi moved that Brooks did violate board policy BBF - Board Member Standards of Conduct #21, when posting online or to social media, Board members will treat and refer to other Board members, staff, students and the public with respect, and will not post confidential information about students, staff or district business. Lager seconded the motion. Kessi shared that a person has a freedom of speech but as an elected official you have to be above that and that people were disrespected. Maloney shared:
“There is a growing segment of people that deem certain views offensive. They target and coerce people into an apology and denounce their view. Which is never good enough! Reputations are destroyed by rumors and accusations. Then their livelihood is stripped away. This just happened to the Sacramento Kings announcer who had that position for over 22 years. He responded to a question about BLM and stated “All lives matter...every single one of them”. How could that be offensive, but it was, he was forced to apologize then was fired. We’re witnessing statues of our founding fathers desecrated and torn down right here in our own state, and across this county, Why? Because they are no longer deemed acceptable. This is a huge problem in our public schools, that students have no basic understanding of our founding and the US constitution. We need to change that! We have before the Board a complaint against Mr. Brooks and it states: “The complaint alleges that the posts on his public Facebook page are inflammatory and incite violence.” However, there is
NO EVIDENCE of the violence incited. I can see why some people would find the two referenced posts in the complaint to be personally unacceptable, there’s posts all over social media that are offensive and unacceptable but it is a public forum where people choose to go, to post and share ideas and comments. If you don’t like what’s there you can post your own views or leave. To say that Mr. Brook’s posts “incited violence’ is itself inflammatory. To the Complainant, please don’t take my comments personally, or anyone else on this call. Unfortunately, this issue here tonight is not just about a couple of posts. It has become an orchestrated effort to ruin a man's reputation and send him packing from the public square. It is a lesson for us all. People should not be ostracized and bullied into silence for their views, nor should anyone who supports their First Amendment right to engage in free speech. In fact, every Board member took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and that right. Someone close to me said today, be careful what you say tonight, because you don’t want them coming after you. That’s the goal isn’t it? To be fearful to say out loud what we believe or think, what our political or religious beliefs are. Because if they are deemed unacceptable we may become the next target of the Woke, cancel culture, that rages today. And for those who cave, it’s only a matter of time until you’re the one under attack.
I support Mr. Brooks' right to free speech as a citizen, I support him as a school Board member and appreciate the countless hours and volunteer work he has done in this forum on behalf of this community. And I hope after tonight it encourages more citizens to attend these meetings and participate in a way that brings excellence to education in the Scappoose School District.”
Brooks stated that he has listened and learned. He shared that he’ll take the posts down and be more careful. Jurasek, Kessi, Lager, Hoag and Graham voted in favor of the motion. Brooks and Maloney voted against the motion. Motion carried 5-2.
The Board did not entertain motions on potential violations of the district Governance Handbook and Value Statement, the request that all inflammatory posts be removed, refraining from publicly posting information, issuing a letter of direction to cease and desist hateful speech and the promotion of violence, and an apology be made by Brooks.
Board members shared that they, as a Board, cannot tell Brooks what to do on actions that are not addressed in policy. The complainant requested a resolution be adopted that reinforces the value and mission of the SSD. Kessi moved to draft a statement that states that the Board will cultivate passionate lifelong learners for an ever changing world and that includes the following values: Academic Achievement, Clear, Effective Communication, As Safe Environment, Trust and Respect, Integrity of Character & Practice; Responsibility, Accountability, Relevant Educational Experience, Variety in Learning & Teaching; Collaboration, Partnership with Families and the Community. Lager seconded the motion. Kessi shared that this needs to be done to show that the Board doesn’t tolerate any kind of hate.
Lager added that he wants to let everyone know that the Board supports everyone in the community. Graham called for all those in favor of Superintendent Porter and herself drafting a statement to be brought to the July board meeting. Motion carried unanimously.
Graham told the complainant that a written response will be issued in 10 days. The written response will address each complaint and the Board’s decision. In closing this part of the meeting, Graham stated that the meeting had been a frank and open discussion and to support the will of the majority the actions of the Board will be recorded as part of their commitment to the welfare of our community.