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UPDATE: Eaton County Commission Chair calls for superintendent to resign

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Posted at 5:09 AM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 05:09:18-04

GRAND LEDGE, Mich. — People are still upset regarding a comment Grand Ledge Public Schools Superintendent Brian Metcalf made about George Floyd, who was killed last week by Minneapolis police, sparking riots across the country.

Early Thursday morning Eaton County Commission Chair Terrance Augustine announced on Facebook he signed an open letter recommending Metcalf be removed from his position.

"Dr. Metcalf's comments were not only unacceptable and not a reflection of the people, students and staff in the district, but also disqualify him to be superintendent of the schools," Augustine said in his post. "He must either step down or be removed from his position so Grand Ledge and its school board can take the right steps to reform commitment to diversity and a safe learning environment for all students."

In addition to the post from the commission chair, a protest has been planned for Monday, June 8, demanding Metcalf step down as superintendent.

Metcalf made a comment on Facebook Sunday saying Floyd should have been following the law to avoid conflict with the police.

Grand Ledge High School alum Abby Wilcox said the post shows it's time for a change in leadership.

"Being responsible for our kids, he should not have those ideals he should not be publicizing those ideals, we need to do better," said Wilcox.

In a letter to parents sent Monday, Metcalf said the Facebook comment was taken out of context.

Metcalf said what happened to George Floyd was wrong and the officer should face trial.

He goes on to say burning businesses, breaking windows, and looting is also wrong, and the violence and criminal activity need to stop.

But Wilcox said that letter isn't enough.

"Apologize. don't double down. now's not the time for that," she said.

Parents said they plan to bring up Metcalf's Facebook comment at its next meeting.

You can read Metcalf's letter to parents below:

Local Leader says, "Stop!! End the Violence!!"

There have been some rumors and questions regarding comments made from Superintendent Metcalf's personal Facebook account — and mischaracterizations of the full conversation and a lone screenshot that misrepresents the dialog that several community members were having about the horrible murder of George Floyd, subsequent riots, and significant damage to communities all over our nation.

To be clear, Dr. Metcalf called for an end to all the violence! In his comments, the Superintendent stated: what happened to George Floyd was wrong and that the police officer should (and will) face trial. The Superintendent also stated: burning businesses, breaking windows, and looting are also wrong. The Superintendent commented we are seeing lots of criminal activity and too many lives have already been ruined. This weekend, the nation has watched rioters burned, run over by trucks, and beaten to death. We have read about police officers being hit with bricks and shot to death. The violence and criminal activity need to stop - we have lost too many lives already!
Finally, the question should not be: why is a local school leader calling for the end to the violence? The question should be: why isn't every regional, state, and federal leader publicly calling for this to end? Why isn't every parent, plumber, electrician, teacher, doctor, and lawyer; in other words, why isn't every American standing up to say STOP! #ENDtheVIOLENCE

However, on Tuesday, Metcalf released a statement on Facebook, apologizing for the comment he made:

To Students, Parents, and the Grand Ledge Community,

This past weekend, I posted a statement on FB.

I am deeply sorry for the statement that I posted. As the leader of a school district that seeks to encourage diversity and be welcoming to all, my words fell far short. I did not take into account the historic inequities that have characterized race relations in our nation for generations – and for that, I am sincerely sorry!

I have informed the board that I plan on enrolling in a diversity and/or cultural awareness and sensitivity class to help me grow so that I may better respond in the future.

For future planning, I know that I have learned from this. I look forward to hearing from those in the community that have expressed concern, and listening to them, and to become a better leader by reflecting on my actions.

Brian L. Metcalf, Ph.D / Superintendent of Schools

Organizers of the protest, "Eliminate the Conflict: Remove Brian Metcalf" expected to be held next week, say Metcalf's comments "are an unacceptable attempt at victim-blaming George Floyd for his murder at the hands of police."

Organizers said the protest will be a show of solidarity amongst parents, students, concerned citizens and community partners such as Black Lives Matter Lansing.

The Grand Ledge Board of Education also released the following statement regarding the incident earlier this week:

To the Grand Ledge Community from the GLPS Board of Education

We have heard your voices and read your emails. Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns. We value your input.

We are deeply concerned about the statement posted by Superintendent Metcalf. There is no place for it among the leaders in Grand Ledge schools, who are expected to value diversity and inclusion.

However, we do not believe the statement reflects his capability to learn and grow from this matter. Superintendent Metcalf has apologized and informed the Board that he will be taking sensitivity training. We will be monitoring the situation closely. We will be putting a letter of concern into his personnel file. And we will be watching to see that he has a chance to grow and learn from this experience.

If there are further instances of this nature, the board reserves the right to take further action.
Sincerely,
Denise DuFort
Board President

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