ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Penfield Central School District is calling the heated encounter at a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night “unacceptable.”
After a public comment section at the meeting, a fiery exchange between parents and a board member took place. Video shows two parents jump on a stage to confront a William Yaeger, a board member, after he used profane language towards one of them.
The president of the Board, Mark Elledge, said in a statement Wednesday, “On behalf of the board, I want to publicly acknowledge that Mr. Yaeger’s behavior was completely inappropriate. As a board, it is our job to listen and treat our community with respect.”
The release went on to say that the District, in turn, is asking parents and those at board meetings to also present comments and concerns in a peaceful manner and treat board members with respect.
News 8 spoke to parents in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting who said the incident happened after some parents expressed concerns over possible diversity, equity and inclusion curriculum being taught in schools.
One parent questioned a board members ties to curriculum being taught and parents said there were board members who didn’t respond approprareily to their frustrations.
“Two of the ladies on the stage were kind of being, in my opinion, not very respectful by not paying attention to what the speaker was saying and they were talking amongst themselves and laughing and making odd gestures. It clearly upset people in the back of the room,” parent Darren Yehl said.
Rich Tyson, a parent who was in attendance, yelled at board members to be more respectful.
“It was like actually bullying of a school board member to a parent.. and I just stood up and said, ‘hey be respectful, you’re here, elected to represent us,” Tyson said.
That’s when board member William Yaeger responded by yelling back, “You’re not going to stand up here and do anything to me a-hole.” Yaeger told Tyson to come up on stage, which Tyson did.
“I walked up there and obviously I got in front of his table and yelled at him and told him basically get out, you don’t represent us well anymore and you aren’t being respectful and he became unhinged, they had to physically restrain him and basically drag him off the stage,” Tyson said.
Law enforcement got called to the meeting. Tyson said he had already left when they were arriving, but he told a friend to give police his number if they needed it but they didn’t call him.
The video of the encounter has been shared all over social media.
WATCH: Video of the incident
“I think it looks horrible for the board of education and Penfield, I grew up in Penfield and went to Penfield High School and graduated in 1997. These issues we are dealing with now didn’t seem to be issues back then,” Yehl said.
Tyson said he wished the incident hadn’t dissolved like it did and he knew kids were in attendance. He said he apologized afterwards to a girl who was there and saw the encounter.
“I said I am sorry that you saw that today kids, but you know, parents are passionate about what’s going on and when a parent sees someone bullying somebody else, sometimes they got to stand up,” Tyson said.
Many parents tell News 8 say they are mostly concerned with what they call a lack of transparency from the board, especially when it comes to curriculum.
“It’s very frustrating to be at a meeting where they actually say they can’t engage in the dialogue, they just sit there and listen to the parents speak and they don’t respond,” Yehl said.
Tyson said board members often don’t reply to parent’s concerns when they are brought up at these meetings.
“The rule for these board members is that you can never really address someone directly. If there is a direct thing they want you want to have it offline, which I think is kind of ridiculous. Let’s have it be transparent, if there is something someone is doing that parents have a concern about, let’s actually hash it out,” Tyson said.
News 8 did reach out to multiple board members for comment, including Yaeger. He said he wasn’t ready to speak on the incident.
Yaegar’s term is up on June 30th.
The board does not meet again until July.