A contentious start to Tuesday night's Metro Schools board meeting after board member Jill Speering texted parents and teachers wanting them to protest director Dr. Shawn Joseph.

The text also says "if teachers are fearful to reveal their identity, please wear a mask. This will make national news!"

Contentious school board meeting Tuesday

"I’m not sure if Ms. Speering internally made the connection between the masked protest she encouraged today and those of yesteryear's held by the KKK but I did," said Metro School Board Vice Chair Christiane Buggs. 

This comes on the heels of growing backlash against Joseph. Though dozens attending the meeting held signs supporting Joseph, several parents spoke out against his leadership Tuesday. 

“Dr. Joseph’s leadership style has been to divide and conquer. He is succeeding thus far in fighting you and everyone in this district," said parent Kelly Watlington. 

Watlington's comment caused several parents attending the meeting to storm out. While the meeting was going on, they started a counter-protest outside. 

"I looked at the school board meeting and I thought I was watching an episode of Atlanta housewives. These are the people leading our children," said Tremyne Haymer, also a Metro parent. “Our kids are taking a back seat to pettiness.”

The new parent-led group calls themselves PROPEL and says they're not for our against Joseph, they just want change. 

“Nobody spoke about the kids. Nobody spoke about the failures," said another counter-protester. 

Joseph says the district is trying its best and calls it "disappointing" that someone in 2019 wouldn't recognize that organizing a masked protest could be offensive.

"We’re doing hard work and you never have 100% of people agreeing with you when you’re doing hard work," said Joseph. 

In a tweet, Speering responded to News4 about Buggs calling her out saying: "But the vice chair would not talk directly to me. She had plenty to say in my absence when I had to leave the board due to heart issues after recent open heart surgery."

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Kim St. Onge joined the News4 team as a reporter in January 2017.

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