Two weeks after a nine-hour Beaufort County school board meeting that included one board member calling the cops on another, board chairman Earl Campbell issued an apology for the way the board conducted itself then.
“Maybe what I’m going to say, some of my board members might not agree with me, but I’m going to say it,” Campbell said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “On behalf of the Board of Education, I apologize to the students, and teachers, staff and citizens of Beaufort County for our behavior at our Nov. 28 meeting.”
As chairman, Campbell’s job includes running the meetings.
After the community learned board member Joseph Dunkle had called the police in response to a perceived threat by board member Cynthia Gregory-Smalls during a closed-door session of the Nov. 28 meeting — a call that did not lead to any charges being filed — some on social media criticized Campbell for letting the discussion get out of hand.
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Campbell’s statement continued: “Our focus, and I’ve asked each board member to focus, both individually and collectively, on doing what is necessary to improving our words and actions to model respectful and professional behavior observed from each of us and this Board of Education.”
Board vice-chairwoman Geri Kinton said she pledged to do the same as well.
Campbell added, “It was a disgrace of what happened and the way it happened.”
No other board members commented on Campbell’s statement, and no vote was taken.
After his apology, Campbell also told the public that some details of the incident were not accurately reported by the media.
“I was in that same meeting and I didn’t hear some of those things,” he said.
When asked at the end of Tuesday night’s meeting what inaccuracies he was referring to, Campbell said it was in regard to board members’ reported use of swear words in the closed-door session, which he said were not related to Dunkle’s call to police.
According to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report, written by a deputy on the scene and later cited by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette in its Nov. 30 reporting of the incident, “(Dunkle) said (Gregory-Smalls) must’ve thought he called her a b---- since other board members were hurling the word around.”
A reporter with the Packet and the Gazette had also confirmed with three of the 11 board members that the word b---- was said in the meeting.
Pressed on what other information he felt was misreported, Campbell said there was none.