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Parents furious over hateful comments by Rockwood School Board member

"That just gives the green light to students. Oh well, this elected official can do it, why can't I do the same thing to my classmates?"

EUREKA, Mo. — It's a video circulating on social media stirring calls for a Rockwood School Board member to resign.

This is after she's seen mocking students.

This spring, Jessica Laurent Clark was voted in to become a School Board member and she's been in the mix of some controversy.

The latest involves the conservative board member speaking at a town hall meeting this week when she made these comments.

She says, "They come to the school board meetings with their gay flags and their masks. I used the word 'libtard', they said I was an ableist. They come in with the kids in the wheelchairs and everything. You are a 'libtard' and I meant it and I stand on it."

Clark also adds, "When we talk about this transgender crap, you’re not gonna do that to my kids. My kids don’t get to leave the house as girls and go to school and be validated as boys."

5 On Your Side reached out to Clark for an interview, but we haven't heard back.

However, other parents had a lot to say.

Rockwood parents Jane Leahy-Smith and Danielle Meert are furious after recent remarks. 

Smith believes Clark was talking about her daughter. She's a mom of nine and six are currently in the district.

Credit: Jane Leahy-Smith

"My daughter is 11 and intellectually would likely not understand that comment. Having been to several board meetings and I'm the only person that I have ever seen there both on videotape and in person with a child in a chair and I feel that was directed to me," she adds. 

Beyond making a disability comment, Clark also addresses LGBTQ students.

Meert shares, "Jessica said she's tired of the trans crap. As the parent of a transgender kiddo, I'm used to people saying terrible things of transgender kids."

Meert's son is a high school student and worries about this being a bigger attack.

"That just gives the green light to students. Oh well, this elected official can do it, why can't I do the same thing to my classmates? That's why there is a high rate of suicide attempts of LGBTQ students," Meert expresses.

Smith, too, worries about her kids and the extra bullying they may face.

She says, "Making fun of the people and the children you're supposed to serve doesn't help either."

Another Rockwood parent Elizabeth Brown is a mom of five. 

Two have graduated over the last two years and three are still students of Rockwood. 

She serves as the liaison for diversity equity and inclusion on behalf of the Eureka High School PTO.   

She says in part, "Her remarks do not reflect the values or standards upheld for the students of Rockwood. As a newly elected board member, she has a responsibility to advocate for the well-being of all of our students and provide a safe and inclusive environment outside of her own personal beliefs."

Rockwood School District shared this statement:

The Rockwood School District is committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment where students of all backgrounds feel included and respected. That is our responsibility as educators, and we owe that to the families who entrust us with the education and safety of their children every day.

Intolerance and disrespect have no place in our schools or on our campuses, as it goes against our core values and mission to provide outstanding opportunities for all students. Director Clark’s views are her own and should not be construed as those of the Rockwood School District or as a reflection on any district staff or other board member. She is an elected official, and as district employees, we have a responsibility to work with the seven elected officials on the Board of Education. Members of the board have expressed to Director Clark that her disparaging remarks have a harmful impact on our students and families and that her views reflect poorly on the district and the more than 4,000 Rockwood employees who are committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for all students.

Several parents are demanding for her to resign.

The biggest action they hope for is a public apology.

As far as the Special School District, which works with Rockwood, its superintendent also condemns Clark's actions. 

In this letter sent to staff and families, Dr. Elizabeth Keenan shares:

As you may be aware, a video recently surfaced of Rockwood Board member Jessica Clark making disparaging remarks directed toward some of our community’s most vulnerable students and families. While these are the view of one person in one partner district, SSD is disappointed to hear such intolerance and disrespect from someone who has been entrusted with providing a safe and caring learning environment for children. These types of comments are not only inconsiderate and hurtful, but they also have no place in education.

SSD classrooms and hallways, both in our own schools and those of our partner districts, demonstrate the importance of inclusion as an everyday practice. SSD staff are provided professional learning opportunities that focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). As outlined in our Equity Framework, trainings are required for staff across the District and sessions include a focus on diversity and inclusion, allyship, and intersectionality. SSD’s Equity Department frequently collaborates with our 22 partner districts to ensure that equitable supports are in place for students that receive services.

In SSD, we remain steadfastly committed to our mission of empowering students of all learning abilities to excel to their greatest potential. We achieve this through an inclusive, collaborative approach centered on each student’s unique needs.

On Thursday September 1st, it will be Rockwood's first school board meeting at 7PM at Marquette. 

Advocates tell 5 On Your Side they plan to attend.

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