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Community reacts after school board member appears in video making hateful statements

<i>KMOV</i><br/>Jane Smith
Jane Smith

By David Amelotti

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    ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Missouri (KMOV) — Rockwood School District Board Member Jessica Clark faces calls to resign regarding a video that shows her making controversial statements at a speaking engagement earlier this week.

In a five-minute speech, she comments on the school district trying to control students, critical race theory in classrooms, and mocks the mentally challenged, people who use wheelchairs and the LGBTQ+ community.

“As a school board member, it’s scary. I mean, they are fighting hard to take control of our children,” Clark said at a Conservative radio station’s town hall.

“I used the word libtard and they said I’m an ableist, they come in with kids in wheelchairs and everything,” Clark shared. “I was talking to you, I called you a libtard, and I stand by that.”

Jane Smith said Clark’s words are insulting. The mother of nine has several children who use wheelchairs and are autistic. Her family is a constant at school board meetings.

“Any reference to that or the short bus is actually in Rockwood’s hate speech,” Parent Jane Leahy-Smith explained. “Teachers are not allowed to say this, students are not allowed to say this.”

“When we talk about this transgender crap, you’re not going to do that to my kids,” Clark said.

Those words are hurtful for 7th grader Ezz Donnelly. They said transgender people are real and that shouldn’t be a shocker.

“I already get harassed and bullied enough at school as it is. Adults of being that example of it’s okay does not help,” Donnelly said.

Ezz’s mother, Terrika, said her biggest concern is the people in the video cheering and applauding Clark’s “hateful words.”

“It’s really sad,” the mother shared. “We feel we have come so far and yet it seems we are at the beginning with the rhetoric thrown around and these are actually children’s lives.”

“When I say I am a Christian, I see a Christian lens,” Clark told her audience in the video. “Everything is through a filter of Christ.”

“One time when I did go to a church, they said to love your neighbor,” Ezz shared. “That’s [Clark’s words are] not love. It’s not cool to harass people.”

News 4 contacted the Rockwood School District superintendent and board president for comment. The district sent the following statement:

“The Rockwood School District is committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment where students of all backgrounds feel included and respected. That is our responsibility as educators, and we owe that to the families who entrust us with the education and safety of their children every day.

Intolerance and disrespect have no place in our schools or on our campuses, as it goes against our core values and mission to provide outstanding opportunities for all students. Director Clark’s views are her own and should not be construed as those of the Rockwood School District or as a reflection on any district staff or other board member. She is an elected official, and as district employees, we have a responsibility to work with the seven elected officials on the Board of Education. Members of the board have expressed to Director Clark that her remarks have a harmful impact on our students and families and that her views reflect poorly on the district and the more than 4,000 Rockwood employees who are committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for all students.”

“I’m offended for my child, and I am concerned because she is voting on issues and decisions that impact not only my child’s daily life but funding that keeps them in school,” Leahy-Smith shared.

News 4 made several attempts to contact Clark for an on-camera interview. She has not responded.

This isn’t the first time Clark has been connected to controversy.

In previous videos online, she can be found calling the National Teacher’s Association a terrorist group. In others, she can be found promoting her former Sugar Baby coaching business, where she teaches young women how to appeal to older, wealthier men.

All of this is why the school community members News 4 walked with said they want the school district to take action immediately.

“I would like an actual censure,” Leahy-Smith said.

“Someone who teaches young children, they will learn from you,” Donnelly explained. “You shouldn’t be learning from someone who isn’t a good person.”

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