- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The Burlington School Board has asked its lawyers to look into whether a member violated board policies when he added posts to his personal Facebook page that the superintendent and some parents have called “sexist, racist and ethnocentric.”

Superintendent Yaw Obeng last week urged board members to review the conduct of the board member, David Kirk. The controversy comes two months after the board ordered the school district to work to improve race relations among staff following complaints of discrimination by the diversity office director and two other black employees.

Board Chairman Mark Porter said he had expected the review of Kirk’s conduct to start Monday. A lawyer for the board did not return a phone call seeking comment.

“Our aim is to have this work completed thoroughly and expeditiously. We want to emphasize to the community the strength of the Board’s commitment to equity and inclusion and to reiterate that our work supports this goal. At the same time, it is important to note that our actions are shaped by what our policies allow and don’t allow,” Porter said in statement.

Obeng said in a statement released Friday that the posts undermine the district’s work toward creating an accepting an inclusive climate for schools and the community. He also invited Kirk to withdraw from his board activities to allow the board to review the matter.

“Although these were private communications and are not related to Burlington School District work, the role of school board commissioner holds a high responsibility in our Burlington community,” Obeng wrote.

The Burlington Free Press reports that an online Change.org petition is demanding the resignation of Kirk. By Monday, it had 522 supporters.

“In a community that celebrates its multiculturalism on the playing field and in the classroom, this kind of openly hostile behavior to students, their families, and their many friends and neighbors is not welcome on the board that oversees the most diverse school district in the state,” the petition by BTV Voters Against Racism said.

Kirk has apologized for reposting the posts, describing them as “inexcusable,” adding that they have since been removed. He didn’t respond to an email request for comment.

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