Havre de Grace Elementary principal says anti-Trump Facebook post is result of hacking

Ex-mayor says he doubts post attributed to Ronald Wooden were made by him

Ronald C. Wooden, principal of Havre de Grace Elementary School, suspects he was a victim of a hacking when a politically and racially charged post appeared on his personal Facebook page following the Nov. 8 election of Republican billionaire Donald Trump as president.

The author of the post stated he or she would not bash Trump, but derided the president-elect's supporters as racist, sexist and ignorant, said anyone who thinks the U.S. is a democracy is "foolish" and stated America is "the laughing stock around the world today."

"America is a joke!" the author wrote.

A screen shot of the post was sent to The Aegis. Trump won Harford County with 58.2 percent of the vote, or 77,864 out of 133,681 votes cast on Election Day and the eight days of early voting that preceded it, according to the Harford County Board of Elections website.

Wooden said Monday that he did not write the post and suspects someone hacked his Facebook page. He said there has been no response from the community, but he declined to comment further, saying he wanted to speak with his lawyer.

He was unavailable for further comment Tuesday, and the school referred questions to the Harford County Public Schools central office.

"We were made aware of the Facebook post," Jillian Lader, spokesperson for Harford County Public Schools, said in an email Tuesday. "When a concern is raised regarding a social media post, we investigate and take appropriate action."

The author of the post expressed concern over Trump's supporters, some of whom are connected with far-right and racist groups in the U.S., such as neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

Trump took a lot of heat during the bruising and divisive campaign about disparaging comments he has made about African-Americans, Mexican immigrants, Muslims and women.

"It tells me a lot about you," the post's author wrote. "Words that come to mind...racist, discrimination, sexist, ignorance, flawed, bigotry, hatred, hypocrite... Not for me! Please don't smile in my face and try to act like you like me. You really don't...I am a Black Man."

Wooden, who is black, is in his third year as principal at Havre de Grace Elementary. He was hired by the school system as a teacher in 1999, according to Lader.

Former Havre de Grace mayor Wayne Dougherty, who stepped down in 2015 after leading the city for eight years, worked with Wooden on a number of occasions while helping to coordinate events at Wooden's school, such as the Patriot Program, school visits and the opening of the Ben Carson Reading Room.

"I have great respect for Mr. Wooden; that does not sound like something he'd say at all," Dougherty said Tuesday when told of the content of the Facebook post. "I've always known him as a true professional and dedicated to his profession."

Dougherty worked closely with the leadership of all four public schools in the city during his tenure.

"All my dealings with [Wooden] were very professional, and I find it very hard to believe that anybody would accuse him of anything like that," he said.

Wooden was named Harford County Public Schools' Teacher of the Year for 2008-09 when he was a fifth-grade teacher at George D. Lisby Elementary School at Hillsdale in Aberdeen. He was named Assistant Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals in March of 2014, when he was an assistant principal at Havre de Grace.

When he was nominated for Teacher of the Year, Wooden was praised by colleagues, parents and former students for going above and beyond to help his students, both in the classroom and in after-school programs, such as working with at-risk boys, helping fifth graders make a smooth transition to middle school, preparing students for 21st-century learning methods and even helping to raise money for a new playground, according to a bio posted on the HCPS website.

The author of the post on Wooden's page takes a more cynical view, claiming "we do not live in a democracy."

"If you say we do...You are Foolish!," the author continued. "We are the laughing stock around the world today."

In a March 2014 interview with The Aegis, Wooden said he is "visible" and "available" to his students and staff daily and there is no place he would rather be than inside the walls of a school building.

"Honestly, I have been blessed over the past 15 years to serve this [school] district," he said. "I don't take for granted, not one day, that I am in this position."

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