Ken Kiler wished fellow board member Marsha Herbert a happy birthday during the “new business” portion of Wednesday night’s special meeting of the Carroll County Board of Education. Then, Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, an ex-officio member of the school board, asked to be heard on a more serious topic.
Board President Donna Sivigny sighed before giving Frazier the go-ahead to address the board and Herbert walked out of the room as Frazier read from a prepared statement, saying he has been mistreated by being interrupted and called “a liar” by board members.
“I want to express my disappointment and, frankly, amazement at how I have been treated by a few board members during the last few meetings,” he said.
Frazier attends the board meetings virtually while board members meet at the central office building in person. The commissioner said he thought his connection was faulty during last week’s meeting but was “astounded” to find out it was board member Tara Battaglia speaking over him.
“As an ex-officio member of the board, I have the same rights to express my opinions as any other board member,” he said.
Frazier said during last week’s meeting he doesn’t believe it was a coincidence the number of COVID-19 cases are rising around the time schools opened for hybrid learning. Battaglia interrupted to say she does not think students are the ones at the bars or doing mass gatherings. Frazier, who was still speaking, could not be heard while Battaglia spoke.
Battaglia said on Wednesday she was “simply correcting you immediately” about COVID-19 cases rising due to the public and not the school system.
Frazier went on to say a teacher forwarded him an email that was allegedly sent by Kiler stating Frazier “should not be part of our meetings with a personal agenda.”
“And I stand by every word of that, sir,” Kiler said in response. “If we’re going to do personal attacks at a meeting then let’s have a free-for-all.”
Frazier continued to read his statement, saying Kiler “basically called me a liar” and also said Frazier’s talking points were from Facebook. The commissioner said his agenda is to make Carroll County Public Schools the best it can be and would think other members feel the same.
“If you don’t have an agenda to help the students and you’re basically going to call elected officials liars and put it in writing, Mr. Kiler, perhaps the board of education is not the place for you,” he said.
Herbert returned to the room when Frazier finished.
On a night when the board voted to suspend hybrid learning and discussed high school sports, Sivigny said she was sorry Frazier’s comments had to be said because she thought the board did a good job hearing everyone.
“We’re not going to have a continued back and forth,” she said.
However, Kiler immediately responded to say, “I have no idea what email you’re talking about but I believe you.” He also said he texted Frazier a few times to talk after meetings but did not receive a response.
Frazier said he did not receive any texts from Kiler.
After the meeting was over and members verified they were no longer streaming online, Sivingy said, “I thought that was really uncalled for.”
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Battaglia said Frazier should not have called out individuals and that what he did “was completely unprofessional.”