‘Appalled’ parent responds to Garner
Although Mecklenburg County School Board member Dora Garner did not attend the board’s regular monthly meeting on Monday night, concerned and self-described “appalled” parent and Bracey resident Georgia Franck spoke in regard to comments made by Garner at last month’s meeting.
During discussion regarding school consolidation at January’s school board meeting, Garner made negative comments in regard to South Hill’s businesses, saying she wanted to “see the stores in South Hill close up with a consolidated high school.”
Garner later claimed frustration over “inequality in education” and her perception that eastern Mecklenburg County schools are favored over western Mecklenburg County schools caused her to make the comment, although she refused to issue an apology, even though numerous South Hill area residents and business owners and others expressed deep concern over the matter. Some even called for Garner to resign from her position on the board.
Later asked to provide examples of the aforementioned “inequality,” Garner bristled at the mention of tax revenues, talked of canceled programs at Bluestone High School and Park View High School students not wanting to travel to Bluestone for classes, and finally settled on the “don’t put us with them” comment that came up during last year’s school consolidation debate.
Garner also claimed her comment was taken out of context, as she later said the remark was meant to be sarcastic.
The whole ordeal caused many local residents, parents and business owners to question if Garner lacked the ability to serve and make unbiased decisions and prompted Franck, the parent of a Park View High School senior, to speak on Monday.
“I was appalled at the remarks,” she said. “As a parent of the Park View FBLA president, it was a difficult conversation trying to explain why someone that is supposed to be looking out for the best interest of all of our children in Mecklenburg County would make such a rash remark about looking forward to the demise of all businesses in South Hill.”
Franck went on to say, as she understands, Garner has said that her remarks were meant as a joke.
“I assure you that (the remark) was not taken in jest,” Franck said. “If I were to stand here and make an ethnic joke, I assure you, I would be a bigot.”
Franck said that it was the meaning behind Garner’s comment, not the delivery, that made it so offensive.
Franck further pointed out that Laurie Wright, who previously spoke before the board offering information regarding the economic impact that closing Park View High School, which serves the eastern end of the county, would have on South Hill and its business community, should be commended for “standing up for her community.”
It was Wright’s assertion that closing Park View would hurt South Hill businesses, Garner claimed, that prompted her to respond with the comment concerning businesses closing.
Franck noted that Garner had no right or good reason to “berate” Wright based on her comments and further called for Garner to issue a formal apology.
Franck called on Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols, saying if Garner refused to apologize, “There should be repercussions.”
Additionally on Monday night, the school board adopted a resolution in support of all of Mecklenburg County’s businesses.