Several weeks ago our board made the bold decision to pass a resolution, I championed, which firmly states that black lives matter. The passing of the BLM resolution started a movement against this board and myself.
Regarding their accusations, I have never lied about my past, and it has always been public record. I deeply regret my actions and am sorry for what I did and everyone affected. My lack of attention, leadership, and plain immaturity allowed this mistake to occur. The facts of the situation are as follows
- In 2017 there was a leadership conference which college students attended for professional development
- The cost was around $200 per person, or roughly a $1000 in total
- Half of the cost of the trip was supposed to be covered by GVSU and the other half by individuals
- GVSU occurred the full cost which prompted an investigation and repayment of the money
- All of the money was 100% paid back immediately following (totaling to $2300, including $1,300 in fines)
- I was never arrested, detained, or taken to jail at any point in time
- I was not convicted of a felony, it was a nolo contender for a misdemeanor charge
- Declined my 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 Board of Education salaries due to budget constraints resulting from the global pandemic
I was in charge of logistics and the planning of the trip so it was my responsibility to invoice the individuals and university appropriately. I have made amends, and I paid back every single cent of the roughly $1,000 owed to GVSU. Additionally, I have already made plans to donate another $1,000 to the GVSU SL Fund in some small way to make good on my actions.
I apologize to my family, my fellow board members, my community, and Sailor Nation for letting them down. I deeply regret my past actions. We grow and learn from our mistakes, and I have tried every day to be a better person. The consequences of this have changed me and made me a better person that is without a doubt, but that does not absolve me of the hurt and pain my actions caused. I brought forward the BLM resolution because I wanted to make our community better for our black sisters and brothers. I wanted to do something that was bigger than me and help make lives better for people in our community.
Over the past four years, I have served hundreds of hours on the Board of Education for free and given back to our community as much as I could including the past six months volunteering every week to hand out free food to our community to help ease the pain of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud of being a part of the districts’ operation that throughout this pandemic has given out around 800,000 total meals to our community. My motivation has always been putting the needs of the children and students of MSPS first.
I understand what I did was wrong. I have tried my best to make amends to my community and GVSU. However, I do not agree with the board censure. There is such obvious political motivation behind the few community members who have encouraged the board to pursue such actions. The motion for censure was rushed; there was no investigation or fact finding as would typically be done by a board in these situations. There should have been more due process before such drastic action is taken against an elected official, whether me or anyone else.
Do not be mistaken or let this distract from the real issue at hand — the attacks and intimidation made against me by some community leaders have been brought upon because of support for BLM. Again, I am deeply sorry and regret what I did.
This statement is made on my own behalf as an individual and does not represent the Mona Shores Board of Education or my position as a Trustee on the Board of Education.