The Lawrence school board abruptly adjourned a meeting Monday amid a disruption sparked by frustration over the district’s handling of a teacher accused of making racist comments during class.
A group of residents claiming to be members of Black Lives Matter-LFK took over the meeting, screaming and cursing near board members. The protesters also said they, not the board, were in charge of the meeting. Police responded but left at the request of a board member.
Board member Vanessa Sanburn said she was not surprised by the level of frustration and anger displayed by the group of concerned parents and residents. Monday was the fourth time, she said, that this group had tried to discuss this matter with the board. The issue surrounding the accusations made against the teacher began in October.
The group accused the school district of protecting a South Middle School teacher who had recently resigned. Under a settlement deal, the district agreed to withhold the results of its investigation in exchange for a promise from the teacher that the district wouldn’t be sued. The Associated Press reported that the teacher has denied the allegations.
The group approached the school board just moments after the 7 p.m. board meeting began. About 19 minutes into the group’s attempt to state its concerns to the board, a board member moved that the meeting be adjourned, and the majority of the board members left the room.
After adjourning, Sanburn and two other board members stayed to listen to the protests.
“People were angry and frustrated, and people were expressing a great deal of pain,” Sanburn said. “I disagreed with the board motion to adjourn the meeting. I feel as though, as an elected official, it is my role to listen and hear what they have to say.”
The group has called for all members of the board to resign, for the district superintendent to be fired and for the district to reopen its investigation of the teacher.
The Lawrence school board has tentatively scheduled a meeting for Thursday to further discuss the matter.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.