Lawrence school board meeting disrupted by audience members

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — A Monday night Lawrence school board meeting was abruptly adjourned after several audience members interrupted the proceedings with complaints and accusations that the school district was protecting a teacher who had recently resigned amid controversy over racist remarks he is believed to have made in class.

People claiming to be part of the group Black Lives Matter-LFK disrupted the 7 p.m. meeting not long into the proceedings, at times making loud, profanity-laced accusations and approaching the bench. Police were called to the meeting, and although tensions ran high, no physical violence occurred and police never had to step in.

Several individuals confronted the board members and refused to yield the floor in a meeting that was livestreamed online. When a board member asked if they would make their statement during the time allotted for public comments, the group’s response was a resounding “No!”

“We’re running this meeting right now! Y’all don’t even deserve to be up there. We’re running this meeting and she’s talking. Do not interrupt her no more!” one woman demanded.

The subject of the group’s ire was the district’s handling of former South Middle School social studies teacher Chris Cobb, who had been accused of making racist comments in class. Cobb “reluctantly resigned” after 17 years with the school district, although he denied any wrongdoing, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The school district has never said exactly what Cobb’s comments were, but a protester at Monday’s meeting claimed that Cobb “has been known to say that white people own black people,” and “white people are genetically superior,” among other remarks.

The group accused the school district of sweeping the controversy under the rug, referencing a recent article in the Lawrence Journal-World that revealed the conditions of Cobb’s resignation, among them full pay and benefits while on administrative leave; total omission of the investigation in Cobb’s personnel file; and an agreement not to reveal the investigation to prospective employers who inquire about Cobb’s tenure with the district.

The board abruptly adjourned the meeting while the group continued shout and air grievances. The group stayed behind after the board members had left the room, calling for the resignation of Superintendent Kyle Hayden.

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