A Michigan school board member has tendered her resignation in the wake of public outcry stemming from a controversial joke she made at a public meeting, Clawson School District Superintendent Monique Beels said Tuesday.
WXYZ reports board member Linda Grossmann made the joke during a Nov. 10 meeting as the board was discussing how to deal with a handful of students in a district elementary school who had food allergies.
“Well, you should just shoot them,” Grossmann said, then held up her hands as if to signal it was just a joke.
Video of the meeting shows those in attendance laughing uncomfortably at Grossmann’s comment.
“We were stunned and saddened by a comment recently made by a member of the Board of Education of Clawson Public Schools,” read a statement posted on the district’s website.
“Although the comment was an inappropriate attempt at humor, it was most insensitive, and has resulted in the resignation” of Grossmann, the statement read.
Beels told the Detroit Free Press she thought the remark was “insensitive and hurtful,” and a “sad attempt at humor.”
“The remarks by this Board member in no way reflect the opinion of the Clawson School District or the Board of Education,” she said.
Beels added that she knew Grossmann was not the type of person who would mean such a hurtful comment.
But national organizations, like Virginia-based non-profit Food Allergy Research & Education, have issued statements denouncing the joke.
“Food allergies are a serious illness and suggesting that these children should be shot, even in jest, is outrageous and unacceptable from a public official,” said James Baker, the group’s CEO.
Mark Drinkard, who has five grandchildren who attend schools in the district, said it was a very poor joke and pointed out that if a student had made a joke about shooting other students that he or she would face severe disciplinary action.
“Just the whole crassness of the thing is what gets me,” Drinkard said.
He added that he has one granddaughter with food allergies and she is forced to sit alone at a separate table in the school cafeteria to avoid foods that could trigger her allergies. It makes her feel ostracized, he said.
Grossmann could not be reached for comment.
The board is expected to vote on whether to accept her resignation letter at its next meeting, Dec. 8.