FROM STAFF REPORTS

A parent of a student enrolled in the Iredell-Statesville Schools’ exceptional children’s program has filed a grievance with the district related to comments a school board member posted on Facebook.

Doug Knight

In a grievance submitted on Thursday, Jean Foster asks the board to remove District 4 representative Doug Knight from office because of comments he made that devalue children with disabilities.

In a post related to a FOX News article about a giant rock being removed from the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus after racism claims, Knight responded to another man’s comment by writing “they won’t. It’s woketardness.” The comments were later removed from Knight’s personal Facebook page.

Those comments, according to Foster, amount to discrimination and harassment under federal law and violate the school board’s code of ethics, which states a board member’s “first and greatest concern must be the educational welfare of the students attending public schools.”

More than 4 percent of I-SS students have some sort of disability, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“It is unethical, immoral and discriminatory to use a derivative of the word ‘retarded’ to attempt to debase others,” Foster said in the grievance. “The implication is that mental disorders are to be mocked. Perhaps Dr. Knight believes that people with mental retardation or physical disorders are inferior to him or that it is okay to degrade them by using disparaging wording, but it is not.”

Knight’s comments, she argues, should disqualify him from serving students.

“In no way and under no circumstances should a person who would devalue our children with disabilities have a right to make decisions for these children,” she said. “There is no scenario moving forward where we can trust Dr. Knight’s intentions with the disabled population.”

Knight declined to comment about the matter after being provided with a copy of the grievance by Iredell Free News on Thursday.

District policy 1740/4010 outlines the procedure for parents and students to file a grievance with the district. The process may be initiated by making a formal complaint to the superintendent or the child’s principal.

Foster’s complaint was filed with East Iredell Elementary Principal Angel Oliphant on Thursday morning.

I-SS Policy Code 2116 – Removal from Office

Members of the board of education may be removed by the remaining members of the board if sufficient evidence warrants such action. Causes for action are:

• the member is not capable of discharging, or is not discharging, the duties required by law; or
• the member is guilty of immoral or disreputable conduct.

Prior to any hearing by the board concerning the removal of a board member, the board will seek any required input from the State Board of Education and will conduct an independent investigation of the charges. The board also will provide the accused member with an opportunity for a due process hearing with proper notice. If the board determines the charges to be true and substantiated by the evidence, the board may declare the office vacant.

23 thoughts on “Parent files grievance against I-SS Board member seeking removal from office

  1. Agree, “There is no scenario moving forward where we can trust Dr. Knight’s intentions with the disabled population.”

    • I respectfully disagree with your opinion. This seems like a witch hunt. I have spoken with him personally and heard him speak at board meetings. He only has students’ best interests in mind. I too have a Sp. Ed. student and have never doubted his dedication to ALL students.

      • I don’t even know this man. But I see nothing wrong about what he said. Here’s the definition of the word woketard: Noun. woketard (plural woketards) (slang, derogatory) A woke person; someone, particularly a left-liberal individual, who holds social justice to a high or excessive level of importance.

        It’s a real word in the dictionary, and has nothing to do with the word retard. That word is not even supposed to be used concerning children with mental disabilities. If the person filing the complaint is comparing children with mental disabilities and the word “retard” to the remark about a rock using the word “woketard”, that leads me to believe that this person identifies people or children with mental disabilities as the “r” word. Perhaps people should check where they are on thought process before they throw “rocks” at other people who are using words in the correct context. Some people need to get a life, and understand that you can’t demand an apology just because “you” don’t like what they said. Freedom of speech is protected, and just because he used a word that you associate with another word, doesn’t mean you get the right to censor.

  2. Looks like he made a comment that he didn’t think all the way through and in my opinion had nothing to do with what this woman is claiming. I hope he will apologize, she can forgive and we can all move on. Why try to publicly punish someone for a careless mistake? Pretty sure we’ve all made one. Seems there is something else going on. She could have reached out to him personally and let him know she was offended. Cancel culture strikes again.

    • Jeanne I’m so sick of people thinking an apology will fix inexcusable behavior. It’s not just this one comment — it’s many comments that he made. So I guess he needs to apologize for those and everyone move on with life? We as a people need to stop enabling bad behavior.

      • The timing of this seems questionable. Dr. Knight ONLY cares about doing right by ALL students. If you met him in person or listened to a board meeting you would see that. This seems like a big distraction for a different agenda.

  3. Meghan Earley says:

    It is highly offensive and disgusting. After reading this I saw several other questionable posts on his page as well. It is so sad that someone that is representing and working for our kids feels this way and is happy to share with others. I really hope they look into removing him.

  4. Doug Knight is a very caring individual. He is very serious about his responsibilities as a board member. It is very difficult to find quality people like Doug to serve. This cancel culture BS has got to stop or we will not have any one wanting to take these thankless jobs.

  5. This is a witch hunt from all the woketards. This parent should have better things to do besides trolling this dude’s Facebook page.

  6. Sharon Hourihan says:

    What a vile thing to say about Dr. Knight, a man who has dedicated himself to all of the students of our district. To lay such an accusation is slanderous and I am offended as a parent who has 2 children who were blessed to have Dr. Knight on their Space Camp 2021 faculty. You know nothing of the integrity or professional background of this man and if you took the time to talk to him after any school board meeting you would see that he strongly supports the family values of our community.
    How awful a person you must be to wish to destroy a person’s reputation and livelihood over one word. You are a disgrace and a terrible role model for all of our children. Shame on you and God forgive you for the hatred in your heart.

  7. Dr. Knight only has students’ best interests in mind. There is a reason he won the school board seat. He is a critical thinker – he doesn’t just follow along like a sheep. He is respectful of others’ opinions and does not deserve this accusation from “cancel culture.”

  8. I am so glad we don’t deal with our students in the way this parent is going about handling the situation. If she was offended, then Dr. Knight needs to be notified and allowed the opportunity to set it right. What would happen if we just got rid of students every time they offended someone? Adults need to lead the way in reconciling and not just seeking to get rid of people they don’t agree with.

  9. I’m grateful this situation will be evaluated in a fair and legal process. We raise our children to understand that our actions have consequences. His language reveals a lot about his character and disdain for the families he was elected to serve.

  10. It has to be remembered too, that people of a certain age, those now 50 and up, used the word “retard” all the time in its popular sense when they were younger: meaning someone who wasn’t firing on all thrusters. It had nothing to do with REAL mentally retarded people. As the years have passed the thought police have made this type of comment supposedly socially incorrect, but it is an easy slip to make. I still hear it sometimes today and I don’t think anything of it.

    It’s no more offensive than saying something is “neat”, “cool”, or “dumb”, or “tubular” in the vernacular of whatever time period you grew up in.

    There was a popular music group who took their name from a sign saying “Slow Children”…many interpreted that as relating to retarded children. People hear and see what they want to see and hear.

    Heck, we don’t even use the word “retarded” anymore in the context of mental development. We say other things: mentally deficient or mentally challenged.

    So, at the end of the day adding “tarded” to a word like “woke” should be as acceptable as some of the other things bandied about on social media and in our mass media.

  11. larry keith preston says:

    It is an uphill battle. Once you place a person in a slot, paint him/her with any limitation, they are forever branded. I fear using any reference to move my kid.

  12. As a mom of a child with Autism and a former student of Dr. Knight, I can say without a doubt that he respects all people and has the best interest of all students in mind. I took the comment as an attack on a way of thinking, not on anyone who is actually mentally disabled. I took the comment as directed toward people who disable their own thinking by putting social ideas above critical thought, which is a huge problem.

    Dr. Knight was elected by the people in his district. He represents them well. He should not be removed.

  13. This man has proven to be an amazing educator and mentor to countless students in the Iredell area for years and years. It is absolutely unbelievable he is being persecuted over a word that has been stretched and warped to create a false image of insult towards those that are disabled. This whole story is a sham.

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