LACEY – At the April 16 Board of Education meeting, Board Attorney Christopher Supsie gave a formal apology to the parents and community for calling them the “chicken gallery” at last month’s meeting, which featured heated debates over gun rights and constitutionality between the board and Lacey parents.
Supsie read from a prepared statement, noting: “I regrettably made an emotionally charged comment directed toward certain members of the public.”
Providing a brief personal history, Supsie’s apology also emphasized that he is not anti-guns. “I grew up around hunters and I learned to appreciate and respect the virtues of responsible gun ownership,” he stated.
Supsie’s formal public apology was appreciated by some, like resident Frank Horvath, who noted that in his previous encounters with Supsie, he perceived him to be a gentleman.
Despite this, Lacey parents remained unsatisfied with the board, using the meeting to continue their crusade to make the board admit wrongdoing and provide a public apology.
Amanda Buron, Lacey resident and parent, and member of the Committee to Recall Linda Downing from the Board of Education, noted during the meeting that she has put in an official request for Supsie’s bills, contributions “and such” from the last three years; another move against the board members, following the start of the recall petition.
Buron’s dissatisfaction stemmed from the lack of public apology from the board for the punishment of two high school students. Many in attendance believed it was unconstitutional and reaching beyond the bounds of what school officials should be able to do. “We still don’t know what they did,” said Buron regarding the reason for the boys’ suspensions.
While it is true that the two boys – who posted a photo on social media of firearms and ammunition at a gun range – received a downgraded punishment after outrage ensued, according to Buron, she remarked that parents are still confused as to why the administration took action at all.
In response to Buron’s concerns, Superintendent Craig Wigley said, “There is no intention of a policy or the way something is written to be out of line.”
Wigley also remarked that we are in a “heightened time of sensitivity” following the recent school shootings, which is cause for precautionary measures.
Horvath took up nearly 30 minutes of public comment in a back and forth discussion with the board, emphasizing the significance of the Constitution, and that we must not “trade our freedom for security.”
One of the newest board members, Tom DeBlass, spoke up to more directly address the concerns of the parents. DeBlass noted that he too has children in the district.
“The world is crazy nowadays…I want what’s best and what’s safest for our kids,” he said. “As a parent, I understand you want your rights for your children, of course.”
“I’m hearing you, but I also hope that you can understand our point…nothing is maliciously done,” said DeBlass to Horvath during the meeting.
The meeting stretched on for more than three hours, a continuation of the dialogue that was created by the suspension of two students for a social media post. What began as somewhat of a guns-rights movement now revolves more closely around parental rights and the constitutionality of the board.
“If we don’t get the answer we want, there will be other recall petitions, I promise you,” said Horvath. “This pattern violates students’ civil rights and its teaching our children, not the values that this family and this community enjoy, but the values that somebody in the school administration has.”