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Stillings issues formal apology to FSSD board

Board members will vote on new leadership positions at Monday meeting

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FSSD virtual meeting

The Franklin Special School District Board of Education met via Zoom for a special called meeting Thursday related to a controversial social media post on the board of education chairman's personal Facebook page.  

The Franklin Special School District Board of Education met via Zoom for a special called meeting Thursday to discuss a controversial social media post on the board of education chairman's personal Facebook page.

To view the entire meeting, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeWmJw5m7T8&feature=youtu.be.

Tim Stillings, the FSSD school board chairman, shared a post on Facebook Friday, for which he quickly received backlash from members of the community saying the post had negative racial implications.

The shared post read, styled in all capital letters, "7 NFL players fathered 68 kids with 52 different women. Maybe the knee isn't the problem."

The FSSD and board members issued a statement regarding the controversial posting. 

"We, the members of the Board of Education of the Franklin Special School District, are aware of a controversial posting on social media by Tim Stillings, who serves as an elected, at-large member of the Board of Education," the statement reads. "The now-deleted posting does not bear any endorsement from the Board and does not represent or reflect the values and beliefs of the Franklin Special School District."

Stillings promptly removed the post, deleted his social media account and issued an apology online. He addressed the board as a whole Thursday. 

“I humbly apologize for creating this controversy, this discussion — this an unnecessary distraction from the good work that we do,” he said in part. 

Stillings said he shared the controversial posting without “thinking through what the posting was implying, or any meaning that any subsequent reader might infer from it.”

“In my rush and carelessness, I shared a public posting that was racially insensitive, and for that I deeply apologize,” he added. “I’m embarrassed that I didn’t initially see that.”

In light of the incident, Stillings said he would not seek another term as FSSD board chairman, but will still remain on the board. 

“After serving as chairman for six years, and especially in light on this incident, I believe it’s time for someone else to serve as chair,” he said. 

While most fellow board members publicly accepted Stillings’ apology, they agreed professional development training related to race relations, unconscious racial bias and a book study were all possible ideas moving forward. 

“Tim, thank you for acknowledging your error in judgment,” school board member Allena Bell said. “I also want to thank the community for responding so quickly and for holding us accountable.

“We can focus on additional areas to build on, not just racial relations, but also in just upholding a culture of respect.”

“Tim, I appreciate your friendship and appreciate you as a board member as well,” school board member Robert Blair said. “I think we all as a board and friend will learn from this and be better going forward.”

While board members did not vote during the special called meeting, they did discuss who they would possibly like to see as the next chairman. 

Blair, a Franklin native and current vice chair of FSSD school board, appeared to be who fellow board members were seriously considering for the position. 

To fill the vice chair position, board members Robin Newman and Alicia Barker expressed interest. 

The board will officially vote on a new chair, vice chair and other leadership positions at its upcoming meeting on Monday at 6:30 p.m. The board will meet in person at Franklin Elementary School, and the meeting will also be live streamed.

(2) comments

CollegeGrover

What Mr. Stillings said may certainly have been crude I find it interesting that no one seems to be willing to even mention the issue he addressed. Children growing up after being abandoned by a parent can be a horrible experience. It is clearly one of the most serious problems we face as a society.

WCElvis

If their truth hurts their feelings, it is no one's fault but their own. There was nothing racial about his post.

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