State school board president apologizes

Feb 11, 2013

The continuing controversy over a Facebook posting by the president of the State Board of Education was the first order of business at Monday’s board meeting.

Soon after President Obama called for tougher gun regulations in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown in December, state school board president and Tea Party activist Debe Terhar did what many people did – she posted on Facebook. But what she posted was a picture of Adolf Hitler with these words: “Never forget what this tyrant said, ‘To conquer a nation first disarm its citizens’.” That set off a firestorm with Democrats, who said Terhar needed to apologize for what they say was a comparison of Obama to Hitler. And three weeks after she posted the picture, Terhar did.

“I fully realize the sensitivity of the issue at hand, and I was wrong to repost something that could ever be perceived as insensitive by anyone.”

Terhar said she apologized personally to members of the board, and to leaders and staffers at the Ohio Department of Education – and added that she asks forgiveness for a mistake that would never happen again. Some board members expressed support, while others said Terhar should resign as board president, a job to which she was re-elected unanimously a week before the controversial post. Then a handful of members of the public commented, most calling for Terhar to step down, including Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jerid Kurtz.

“It’s heartening to hear this commentary here, but it’s still too little too late, and it’s disappointing that the Governor has yet to call for her resignation.”

Two Republican board members then challenged Kurtz on how much money the Democratic Party raised through emails after the controversy. A motion was eventually made to remove Terhar as board president – it failed 10-6. But Republican board member Jeff Hardin says one thing remains – for Kurtz and the Ohio Democratic Party to apologize to Terhar for what he felt were untrue statements they made during the controversy.

“It’s always pointing fingers at somebody else.  Well, they ought to buy a mirror. They owe Mrs. Terhar an apology.”

Board member Deborah Cain, a Democrat who offered the motion to remove Terhar as president, says now the board has to come together.

“It’s going to have to. We don’t have much choice. We are going to need to move forward, because there is an awful lot of work that has been slated for the State Board to do because of passed legislation. So we have to do it.”

Meanwhile, the Ohio Democratic Party is continuing with a lawsuit to force the disclosure of e-mails and texts from Terhar to board members after the posting. Kurtz says a package of e-mails delivered to the party’s office after the meeting, but there was just one text in that package, and he says calls are being made to board members to find out if there are more from Terhar that weren’t turned over.