TRUMANSBURG, N.Y.—Trumansburg Central School District Board of Education President Scott Sherwood is under scrutiny for comments he made on his personal Facebook account about last week’s riot at the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Sherwood wrote a status on Facebook, which has since been deleted, that appeared to compare those infiltrating the Capitol building, who were there to challenge the results of November’s presidential election, with Black Lives Matter protests that spawned nationwide over the summer after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, some of which boiled over into riot situations.

“While I certainly don’t agree with what went on in the (Capitol) today, it is notable that the protestors are leaving peacefully, nothing is burning, no cars of innocent people have been targeted, no businesses have been looted, and no police are being spit on,” Sherwood wrote. “Just my observations.”

Reporting from the incident in the Capitol show that much of Sherwood’s status is untrue, as rioters violently confronted police, chanted for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence and generally vandalized the Capitol building, plus offices of Congressional representatives. Five people wound up dead during the incident, including at least two from violence at the event and three others from medical emergencies suffered during the event, and dozens more were injured.

A petition calling for Sherwood’s resignation –– which currently has 718 signatures as of Monday afternoon –– started after his comments began to circulate throughout the community. Sherwood declined to comment except to say that he would have a statement prepared for Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.

“Sherwood’s comments are not consistent with the clearly articulated values and commitments of the Trumansburg School District, as communicated by the superintendent, the district’s Missions and Philosophy, or the Board of Education goals,” the petition states. “These goals are the School Board’s responsibility and especially the president of the School Board to understand and undertake.”

Molly Wadzeck Kraus, who authored the petition, said she was alerted to the social media post by a friend who screenshotted it and sent it to her. She made a private status of her own, calling out Sherwood’s comments and advising others in the community that they should consider this view when it comes to vote on Sherwood’s position in the next Board of Education election. Once the status gained traction, she made it public, and eventually decided to write the petition.

She said Sherwood’s sentiments don’t match up with what the district has been trying to push in terms of a commitment to racial justice and equity, particularly in light of their emphasis on anti-racism in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year.

Kraus also said she’s found past comments from Sherwood to be similarly tinged, selectively pointing out instances of violence related to Black Lives Matter actions and showing support for the Blue Lives Matter movement, which is often at odds against Black Lives Matter.

The district’s Administrative Team published a statement last week after the Capitol incident, though they make no mention of Sherwood’s comments. A request for a statement from District Superintendent Kimberly Bell has not yet been answered.

“As a district, it is always our responsibility to educate our students in a way that reflects our evolving history without taking sides on politics or religion,” said the statement. “That said, we maintain an obligation to promote ideals of non-violence, justice, anti-racism and equity.”

Asked what she would like to see happen if Sherwood refuses to resign, Kraus said she “would like to see what transpires in the (Board of Education) meeting” on Monday night.

“Mr. Sherwood’s perspective and bias are not the ones needed as the board president when the district is working to move towards a more inclusive and equitable direction,” the petition concludes. “We, the undersigned, ask for the resignation of Scott Sherwood from the Trumansburg School District Board of Education.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com