EACS board member calls for school president’s resignation

November 13, 2018

An East Allen County Schools board member publicly called for the board president’s resignation Tuesday over his behavior on Halloween : dressing as Donald Trump and posing for a photograph with someone in apparent blackface.

Board President Bob Nelson, along with the other five members, didn’t acknowledge Paulette Nellems’ request, which she made during board comments at the meeting’s end.

After the meeting, Nellems said her colleagues’ reaction spoke for itself.

“It’s evident how they responded,” she said.

Nellems is the only black school board member; everyone else is white.

She asserted Nelson violated the Indiana School Boards Association’s code of ethics, which states school board members should refuse to play politics in the traditional partisan or any petty sense.

Trump has caused much division in the country, Nellems said.

“To dress up as the president of the United States : first, I want to say [Nelson] has every right,” Nellems said. “The Constitution gives us the right to freedom of speech and expression, but once you become a board member, a public figure, there is a code of ethics.... There’s an expectation that we all should want from those who lead us.”

Constituents have called and emailed Nellems about the issue, she said.

“We should be appalled that [Nelson] has the audacity to sit here as if that don’t mean anything,” Nellems said. “It means a lot. It means a lot to me. And to dress up in blackface, no. To take pictures, you should be appalled. And I am appalled, and I am frustrated.”

Nelson said after the meeting he has no plans to resign. He offered few other comments, noting he has addressed the issue elsewhere.

In a Facebook posted days after Halloween, Nelson said he dressed as Trump with no intention of ill will. The controversial photograph, which Nelson has deleted from his Facebook page, was among dozens taken of him at an event that drew upwards of 1,800 trick-or-treaters, he said.

“My sincere apologies to all who were offended,” he wrote on Facebook.


Update hourly