Henrico School Board Addresses Chair’s Offensive Facebook Post
The Henrico School Board held a closed session Wednesday to discuss a recent Facebook post by the board's chair where she expressed support for Dr. Seuss. The board agreed to participate in cultural sensitivity and implicit bias training in response.
Last week, Chairwoman Micky Ogburn reposted a poem written in the style of Dr. Seuss that celebrated the author's work, after six of his books were discontinued for offensive depictions of Black and Asian caricatures. Ogburn's post also featured a photo of the Grinch holding up his middle finger.
“I love this and Dr. Seuss books,” Ogburn said on Facebook. She expressed regret over the social media post Wednesday. She claims she did not see the full image and did not read the full poem before reposting.
“If I had read the poem in its entirety, I would have never reposted, because this does not represent what I believe in. As soon as I read the entire offensive post, I immediately deleted it, but I know that this mistake has caused others pain,” Ogburn said.
Following the Wednesday closed session, Marcie Shea, the board’s vice chair, said board members will partake in sensitivity training, and she added that the school district will use their ongoing town hall events to hear input from the public regarding this incident.
“There are times when apologies are enough. There are also times when actions are required to help bridge gaps caused by mistakes,” Shea said.
Following Ogburn’s Facebook post, several members of the Henrico community formed an online petition calling on her to step down as chair of the school board. The petition also called for the board to engage in anti-racism and social media training.
“It is clear that the HCPS community needs to engage in courageous conversations about diversity and inclusion and would be better served by School Board leaders who are prepared to have those conversations publicly. Our students deserve that,” the petition says.
On Wednesday, Ogburn told reporters she will not step down.
“I feel like I have the opportunity right now to learn from what happened, to grow from it, and then continue to lead this board and use my experience to do that,” Ogburn said. “Stepping down, it could be symbolic in nature, I guess. But I feel like I can now lead us in another way, in a more productive way, in a way that causes us to grow and learn from this.”
The board members said a time has not yet been determined for when the cultural sensitivity and implicit bias trainings will begin. A date for the town hall will be announced soon.