NASHUA, NH — A Nashua school board member is under fire for making race and gender comments on Facebook to criticize some members of a new parent group requesting a dialogue with the board and district's superintendent for several weeks about a school reopening plan.
Gloria Timmons, the president of the Nashua NAACP, who was elected to an at-large seat on the board in 2017, attacked another board member, Jessica Brown, claiming she and others with "Trump colors" had organized the march on the school district on Oct. 5 to force the reopening of schools.
"I didn't see a person of color in the crowd," Timmons wrote. "All I seen (sic) were privileged white upper middle class woman (sic) bitching led by Jessica Brown."
A Facebook friend of Timmons' suggested the parents were "selfish, self-entitled crybabies," and Timmons agreed in a reply.
"Yes," she wrote, "I didn't think board members can protest if they didn't get their way publicly. She should be called out."
Timmons suggested Brown, who was elected in 2019, "fooled the union," meaning teachers, during her campaign, and said Nashua Parent Voice did not care about the positive COVID-19 case count in the city. As of Tuesday, active positive test result cases in Nashua were at 105 out of more than 89,000 residents or less than 0.12 percent of the city's population.
"If teachers don't come to classes it's a mute (sic) point," she wrote.
Timmons also suggested if parents did not like the way the district was being run, they should home school their children.
"These parents are taking valuable time venting in front of the children and knocking the teachers, should take their child out of class and home school them," she wrote. "Or better yet, create your own perfect school. But stop making it impossible for other children with your bitching and complaining."
Not all the replies were supportive. Some complained Timmons' comments were racist and called for her to resign or be removed.
Tracy Pohl, a parent, chastised Timmons for suggesting anyone who wanted their children in school were privileged adding that her daughter was also not privileged.
"We live in a mobile home," she wrote in response to the post. "She is working 3 jobs to be able to save and pay for college. She is going to a trade school. In order for her to get $2,500 off tuition, she needs to be in the classroom (to complete the minimal number of hours)."
Another resident, Heather Chaves, criticized Timmons for using improper English in the post while representing the board of education, saying, "Just wow."
April Dugay, another resident, called for her removal from the board immediately.
"Your comment above is completely racist," she wrote.
Timmons did not return an email seeking comment about the posts and replies and the entire Facebook thread was either deleted or placed on a private setting after Patch reached out to her for comment.
This is our school board, this is how the feel about Children & Parents fighting for their children’s education ......
Posted by Allison Dyer on Tuesday, October 13, 2020
However, Raymond Guarino, a member of the board, defended Timmons and took issue with anyone calling the comment racist — even though it mentioned the race and gender of those parents involved in the group in a denigrating, offensive manner. He insinuated people of color could not be racist and that was not the nation's problem. People having an argument on Facebook with unhappy parents did not rise to the level of a response either, Guarino said.
"I am not going to be part of this absurdness," he wrote. "When it comes to racial discrimination in the USA, Black people are not the problem. And if some people are trying to frame this as racism against white people, I am not buying it."
While calling for "honest" conversations about race relations, Guarino said he understood parents in Nashua were tired, angry, and exhausted due to coronavirus. The district, he added, was "trying to deal with a serious pandemic and we are not going to get sidetracked from arguments that happen on Facebook."
Other members of the Nashua Board of Education did not return emails seeking comment about the post.
Jahmal Mosley, the superintendent of schools in Nashua, also did not return an email seeking comment about Timmons' post or parents in Nashua seeking collaboration after he unilaterally decided to stop the move from remote learning to hybrid in September.
Amy Anderson Medling, one of the organizers of Nashua Parent Voice, also chose not to comment on the post. The group, which marched outside of Nashua city hall Tuesday before the board meeting, is still hoping to create a dialogue and open process to get children back into school in some way.
One Nashua parent, Kelly Dinoff, in a letter to the board, said she was "shocked and disappointed" to see such "an unprofessional confirmation of the divisive and self-serving attitudes held by certain members of the" board.
"Elected to represent the entire Nashua School District community, outright attacking and disparaging a group of parents exercising their God-given rights and duties to advocate for their children is simply reprehensible," Dinoff wrote. "How can we as parents have faith that a board and administration that allows such rhetoric will impartially and fairly consider the needs and wants of the community it serves? This type of talk is filled with hate and bile. It does not represent the kind of thoughtful and measured commentary and actions of someone who should be as, Gloria herself states, holds her 'allegiance … with the students, the twenty-two thousand or so parents and the district staff.'"
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