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Editor’s note: Due to a source error, the language of the grievance has been updated to reflect the true quote spoken.

A number of parents and students spoke out Saturday, calling for the resignation of Twin Peaks Charter Academy board member Michelle Kieser, following social media posts she made in reference to George Floyd, a Black man who was killed May 25, and coronavirus restrictions.

The comments were discussed Saturday when the board of the Longmont school and Joe Mehsling, director of TPCA, met for a retreat. During the Zoom meeting, 10 comments were read aloud by Mehsling. More than half of those who commented called for the resignation of Kieser, with all expressing opposition to what Kieser wrote on social media.

Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Leading up to the discussion Saturday, parent Becky Kelly filed a grievance with TCPA on June 7, after she saw Kieser’s social media posts. Kelly has two children, one whom will be a senior at Twin Peaks this coming school year and another whom attended the charter before opting to switch to Longmont High School this year.

According to the grievance, Kieser’s post called into question the accuracy of video footage, which shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection to Floyd’s death May 25.

Kieser posted her comment in response to a social media post made June 4 by Anna Gravelle, another board member. Kieser’s post read:

“I don’t even know if I believe the video circulating that caused the riots. Too many off things about it and it doesn’t add up. Paramedics not dressed as paramedics and they did nothing just rolled him over while still cuffed and took him away, one side of the street video shows no bystanders, otherwise apparently three-four people telling them to stop, the officer and Floyd worked together at the same club as security guards, etc. etc. etc.,” according to the grievance.

Kieser also raised questions about the shelter-in-place orders, likening them to a “tyrannical overthrow of the US government and the world” and encouraging guidelines to be ignored, according to the grievance. Both Kieser and Gravelle expressed interest in participating in activities to “fight to get our kids back to school.”

The posts have since been deleted.

Kelly, alongside the NAACP’s Boulder County chapter, is asking for Kieser’s resignation.

In her comment Saturday, Kelly cited a board member agreement, which she said reads that board members will “refrain from actions or behaviors that are intentionally harmful, hurtful or slanderous to others associated with TPCA,” and that those in violation can be dismissed or prosecuted.

“In addition to showing an inability to show fact from conspiracy theory, these statements show a level of ideological bias,” Kelly said. “The statement implies that in the moment of his murder, George Floyd was engaged in a conspiracy with the intent to deceive.”

State Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, who connected Kelly to the Boulder County NAACP, also commented on the situation, saying that “racist rhetoric has absolutely no place in any school, public or private.”

“We do not challenge people’s right to their opinion, but the fact is that George Floyd was murdered,” the comment read. “The fact is that masks reduce the risks, not only for other people, but the wearer themselves from becoming infected by a highly contagious disease that can kill or permanently disable its victim.”

Regina Casey, the board president and treasurer, said she had received “a lot of positive letters in support” of Kieser, but said these people did not want their comments read aloud due to “privacy concerns.” In an earlier response to the situation, Casey called Kelly’s concerns a complaint, not a grievance, since neither board member violated specific TCPA policy.

During the meeting, Kieser said, “I believe we need to follow state guidelines and deeply care about the safety of our students.”

Kieser, who has four children attending Twin Peaks, also released a written statement before Saturday’s meeting saying that her comments had been taken out of context and that they were not accurate to her “character” and “have nothing to do with my capacity as a board member.”

Kelly said she believed the board would receive social media training Saturday. Instead, the board only had a discussion on social media and that the focus, Kelly said, seemed to be on “social media behavior and not whether or not the statements were problematic.”

Kelly has called on the board to require annual equity training, require that members “support diversity, equity and inclusion in their decisions and actions” and add an equity committee. If Kieser doesn’t resign, Kelly said she will collect signatures from parents to trigger a recall vote, as permitted by the school bylaws.

Before the meeting Saturday, the NAACP had submitted a letter, calling for Kieser’s resignation. The letter said the “public declarations” are a poor reflection of educational leadership and those leaders’ job to create a safe and equitable environment for students.

Mehsling said based on the Saturday meeting the board will take three initiatives to the school’s governance committee for discussion. The governance committee works to assure that policy and curriculum align. Those items include correcting bylaws around whom can remove a board member. As it stands now, a board member elected to the board can only be removed by those who elected them to the position. The second initiative is a review of the social media guidelines to determine whether they work for the school or need enhancement. TPCA, which as a charter operates independently but is overseen by an authorizing school district, does not have its own social media guidelines and therefore defaults to those of the St. Vrain Valley School District. Finally, Mehsling said the governance committee will discuss current board member agreements and the requirement for all board members to go through the same training as TPCA staff. The staff training includes school communication, diversity training and equal opportunity training. Mehsling said if approved, board members would have to provide written proof that they attended the trainings. Mehsling said board members are not currently required to complete any training.

Mehsling said the board plans to release a statement to parents Monday in response to Kieser’s social media comments. The board will meet again Aug. 6, when Mehsling said they will set a time for the governance committee to meet and discuss the initiatives. After the governance committee discusses the initiatives, they will go back to the board for a final vote.

In other business, the board discussed tentative fall reopening plans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Mehsling said he plans to send out communication to parents outlining those plans on Thursday or Friday.

The Twin Peaks board is comprised of seven members elected to the position by the school’s parents.

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