An apology, but no resignation from controversial school board president

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Oct 21, 2014 4:16 AM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Judith Guasch says Rigler, and the School Board, is failing to remember the kids in its decisions.

(Fairfield, Adams County) -- Nearly 200 residents filled the auditorium at Fairfield Area High School Monday night, to take the School Board's President, Brad Rigler to task. 

With parents carrying signs reading "Our children deserve more", "Save our schools", and "We *are* sorry for slavery", Rigler still pushed back against those urging him to resign. He's facing a storm of criticism over years-old videos posted to Youtube, where he went by the name crackroc kid.


Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Some of the signs displayed by parents and students at the meeting.

The last message references a video posted online by School Board President Brad Rigler called "Not Sorry for Slavery".

In it, Rigler says there's no reason for Congress's apology for slavery, but he also says he's not defending slavery.

Those comments served as the jumping off point for parents.

Heather Roberts was first at the mic, pointing to another video about interracial relationships.

"Your quote is 'She must have been on a post-adolescent drug binge in order to have a child with this man'. That's what you say. That's how you characterize it. You call the President of the United States a snot-nosed bastard," she said.

Through her comments, Roberts' African American daughter Bailey stood next to her, trying to let out some of her tension with big sighs.

"I'm here to look at you individually, and ask you how you can stand behind a man that has these types of views. The videos that I have seen drip and ooze with racism and sexism," Roberts said, pointing to other school board members.

About 20 speakers denounced Rigler's videos, with loud standing ovations quickly coming after almost every time a speech ended.

Another parent, Josh Laird, called for a clean sweep of the board.

"You have a chance to do the right thing tonight. Resign. All of you. Get out of the way. Let the community fix the wound that you've created. Mr. Rigler, the last person who caused this kinda problem in this town was Robert E. Lee," he said.


Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Standing ovations were common at the meeting Monday night.

But Laird didn't get any of what he asked for.

Three members of the board voted to ask Rigler to step aside (Marcy Van Metre, Lonny Whitcomb, Jr., Pam Mikesell), but five opposed the motion (Chuck Hatter, Mickey Barlow, Agatha Foscato, Bruce Lefeber, Richard Matthews). Brad Rigler abstained.

Rigler apologized to any who may have been offended by the videos, but didn't say whether he still believes what he said years ago...

"I don't want to hurt anybody, I don't want to cause any discontent. And I take responsibility for my part in this. We do have business to run here as far as the business of the board, and in that, I've gotta say, we're pretty strong," he said.

"The point is the harmony of the school district. Those old commentaries that I produced if they in any way offended anyone, I am sorry that they are offended, and now I'm moving forward with the business of the board," said Rigler.


Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Fairfield Area School Board President Brad Rigler (center) says he's sorry to those who were offended by his comments.

After the meeting, he answered a single question from reporters, offering no comments as he strode to administration offices, smiling.

Parents say the videos are just the start of many problems they have with Rigler.

They say that under Rigler's two month tenure, the board has held meetings in secret, and voted on items that never appeared on an agenda in advance.

Many of the parents say Rigler used a second grade teacher's retirement as leverage to cut the athletic director position to part-time.

Sara Laird is running a petition that she says more than 550 people have signed.

"Your constituents have spoken and we will not go quietly into the night. We will continue to collect signatures until both Mr. Rigler and Mr. Matthews have resigned or the board has removed them," said Laird.

Rigler is in an appointed position, and the school district's solicitor maintains even if the board voted to remove him, he could remain as President.

Meanwhile, Rigler's videos are gone from Youtube.

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