Antioch School Board gets heated over Householder Twitter comments about Rocha

Fails to remove Householder from School-City Standing Committee on 1-4 vote after she offers multiple apologies

By Allen Payton

Following another heated exchange amongst Antioch School Board members during their meeting Wednesday night, over Twitter comments by Trustee Ellie Householder about Trustee Mary Rocha, the board chose not to remove Householder from the School-City Standing Committee on a 1-4 vote. Only Rocha, who made the motion, voted in favor, after Householder offered multiple apologies during the meeting.

The comments posted on Twitter, which have since been deleted, referred to Rocha’s decision at the last board meeting to withdraw her agenda item about removing Householder from the committee, and how the recent demonstrations by the students were having an effect, using the phrase “she is SHOOK YA’LL”.

“Madame Chair, I am interested in putting a motion in place would that be proper?” Rocha asked.

“Yes, you can make a motion whenever you want,” Board President Diane Gibson-Gray stated.

At this time I will make my statement, then,” Rocha said. At the last meeting I had put the school and city subcommittee on the agenda for discussion. But I decided to move the item until after the November election. I felt we needed to be respectful of the timing and consideration of the trustees in the election, which includes both of our representatives to this committee.”

“I was appalled at the tweets that Trustee Householder wrote encouraging more harassment against me and she was encouraging more people to bully me to influence my vote similar to what she did to Councilwoman Joy Motts.”

“Madame Chair, point of order, point of order, point of order,” Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White said interrupting Rocha, who continued to read her statement. “Excuse me, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, this has never happened, before,”

“Excuse me. Excuse me. Trustee Sawyer-White, she has the floor,” Gibson-Gray responded.

“At this time, I’m putting a motion to remove Trustee Householder from the School-City Subcommittee,” Rocha added.

“OK. That’s a motion. Before we go, Trustee Sawyer-White was saying point of order,” Gibson-Gray said. “What is the point of order?”

“That’s totally disrespectful. That’s disrespectful. She could have motioned without the comments,” Sawyer-White said. “That’s totally disrespectful. As the president you can motion a point of order.”

“That’s not a point of order,” Gibson-Gray explained. “She’s allowed whatever she likes. So, she has made a motion to remove Trustee Householder. Is there a second so we can have conversation?  I will second it for conversation. Does anyone want to say something.”

“I’ll say something. So, I apologize if what I said on Twitter was hurtful,” Householder then said. “But I just want to be clear, because I’m sure that Trustee Rocha didn’t actually read the tweet herself. But I was not in any way calling for any violence to be perpetrated against any one of my fellow trustees or anyone in the community, for that matter. My tweet was rather to encourage the students to continue demonstrating and exercising their First Amendment right. You know, I understand, I mean I’ve heard since then that there have been other altercations during or after that meeting regarding SRO’s. I was in no way condoning any particular tactic. But I was in fact saying student’s rights to exercise their First Amendment was right and it had an affect.”

“And so I understand how if you don’t understand Twitter that could be definitely taken out of context. But as somebody who uses Twitter a lot, ask anybody who’s on my Twitter feed, that was definitely not the intention,” she continued. “But, regardless of my intent was, I do deeply apologize, because I can understand as a fellow trustee how alarming it must be to hear that there’s another trustee calling for violence or bullying. But I can assure you that definitely that was not my intention, at all. But I do apologize because I can understand how upsetting that is.”

“And with that I mean do understand why that type of emotional, visceral response would lead to ‘well, she doesn’t belong on the city subcommittee,’” said Householder. “But I kind of view those, I don’t kind of, those are two very separate things. And I think that if we, you know, want to have a discussion offline, I’d be more than happy to talk with my fellow trustee about that and to have a heart to heart about that and to just clear the air. But I think to move to say ‘oh, well, she doesn’t belong on the city subcommittee’ is a little odd to me.”

“But, you know, whatever, as President Gibson-Gray pointed out people can make a motion about whatever they want to make a motion on. That’s kind of how this kind of thing works, right? But, you know, I do apologize if those comments were hurtful. Our school-city subcommittee hasn’t met for a long time and we only met twice. So, it’s necessarily moving and sharking things.”

“Three out of the four elected officials are up for election. I anticipate that this committee is going to change, and I’ll be really shocked if we met before the election,” Householder concluded. “I obviously respect whatever motion people want to put on the table.”

“I actually asked Trustee Rocha to pull it back,” Gibson-Gray said. “It was as a result of the visit to Councilmember Motts’ house. I didn’t want another open letter to a board member from you to be put out if this happened. Unfortunately, you know, there are things that are disagreed on, you know and the way it’s worked out in public is not good.”

“I am a Twitter user. I did not show her that. I follow you on Twitter. I saw it. I believe that ‘all shook up’ is  you know, frightening,” she continued. “I don’t care how you couch it, I don’t think that was appropriate language. Do I think it’s enough to pull you off the committee? No. So, I’m going to vote no.”

“But, you know, this is a conversation that needed to be had in public,” Gibson-Gray stated. Because there was no conversation outside of your Twitter feed and I think it was very disrespectful in my opinion.”

“I just want to offer the same thing that’s been told to me time and time, again. You all have my phone number. If there is any confusion about anything please feel free to call, text me, whatever,” Householder responded. “I am the youngest person on this board, and the way that local leaders, or leaders in general engage with their constituents is a little bit different. And so, I understand that there is just that kind of like knowledge gap about the use of Twitter and I also think it’s not inappropriate to go to the public, as a public figure, to express opinions. But you know you guys have my number. So, call me in the future if there’s anything confusing to you.”

“The ageism comment is offensive to me,” Gibson-Gray responded. “I’ve been on social media long before you have. So, to say that because of our age we don’t understand that is challenging for me.”

“The thing I wanted to say is, I did this, at the last meeting I was doing it, as I said, so that we didn’t have any problems with the issues of the elections, etc. And so, I took it off for that reason,” Rocha explained. “But I resent it how it came back as if I was a weak person. I have over 30 years of working in the community, 30 years in public life and I’ve never backed off on anything. And believe you I sleep well. I don’t have issues with what my decisions are. Thank you.”

Then, before Superintendent Stephanie Anello read the public comments, she said, “There are so many comments that I just heard that were offensive, but it’s not my place to say that.”

The two public comments chastised Householder for her Twitter comments, and included them verbatim.

“I know I said I’d vote no, but I’m waffling,” Gibson-Gray then said. “But to hear them read out loud is a little bit different. What I just heard was a little disturbing. I do appreciate the fact that Trustee Householder did apologize and that will have some weight on my vote.”

“I was a little confused by what you’re saying, “Householder then said, “I think there were a few type-os.”

“Maybe I was a bit pre-emptive in saying how I’d vote,” Gibson-Gray said. “These were more than just ‘shook’. Your message was not appropriate for a board member.”

“I’m going to take back my vote no and I’m going to vote yes,” Gibson-Gray then said. “I’m changing my mind as I’m listening.”

“Again, this is our democracy at work,” Householder said. “And so, like I’m not offended at any of this. What I think for me since we’re talking about what I meant. That was actually in response to what a lot of intense things students were saying, they are having an effect on what the board is doing. I do standby my message, my larger message that it’s very clear demonstrations do have an affect on our politics. I do not take away the fact that I did upset my fellow trustee. In all of these comments it’s never my intent to be hurtful.”

“I do appreciate your apology,” Gibson-Gray said. “Regardless, I am a board member 24-hours a day. So, I’m very careful what I say. Board members are held to a higher standard. Perhaps we can learn something from this.”

She then called for the vote.

“Mary you made the motion to remove Trustee Householder from the subcommittee,” Gibson-Gray said.

Sawyer-White then wanted to make a comment. “I just wanted to say Ellie has a great heart. I know we conduct ourselves in a different manner and Twitter is a different ballgame. And Ellie is qualified to be on this committee and on this board.”

The motion failed on a 1-4 vote with Trustee Gary Hack saying, “with trepidation, no” and only Rocha voting in favor of it.

“I understand, in my mind, Trustee Rocha’s justified offense. I’m hoping we learn and move forward,” Gibson-Gray said. “The motion fails 4-1. So, am I done with that one, everyone? Sounds like a yes.”

“We’ll move on to 11, which I tried to start earlier,” she continued. “Resolutions for immediate action.”

“Madame Chair, what was the vote, the voting outcome?” asked Sawyer-White. “I’m sorry.”

“The vote failed 4-1,” Gibson-Gray responded.

“I said ‘no’,” Sawyer-White stated.

“Yes, that’s correct. So, it failed. Trustee Householder is still on the standing committee,” Gibson-Gray responded.

“OK. Thank you,” Sawyer-White responded.

“Yes. Can I move onto 11, now?” asked Gibson-Gray.

“I’m sorry. I was confused on the vote,” Sawyer-White said.

“I know. It was an unusual one. It was an unusual one,” Gibson-Gray then said.

“Mine was yes. It was yes. I’m not in favor,” Sawyer-White said.

“I know. It was an unusual vote. We’re all good, now, right?” Gibson-Gray asked.

“Well, I’m in favor. I’m the only one that voted ‘no’”? Sawyer-White asked.

“No. The vote was 4-1 that the vote failed. Trustee Householder is still on the standing committee by a vote of 4-1,” Gibson-Gray reiterated.

“And I’m the one,” Sawyer-White then said.

“No. No. No. You are the four. You’re part of the four,” Gibson-Gray explained, again.

“OK. Thank you,” Sawyer-White responded.

“Superintendent Anello, am I misstating that? I just want to make sure,” Gibson-Gray asked.

“No, you’re correct,” Anello responded.

“And Trustee Sawyer-White, you’re good now, right?” Gibson-Gray asked.

“Yes. Thank you for clarifying,” Sawyer-White responded.

“The vote was 1-4, not 4-1. I mean it’s either or,” Anello added.

“Yeah, four meant she stays on the committee,” Gibson-Gray stated. “That’s the way it works. It’s like when you vote in the ballot. It’s confusing. But the outcome is she stays on the committee.”


the attachments to this post:

Ellie’s Twitter Comments re Rocha 8-14-20

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