District 38 school board member's Nazi salute vacation picture draws outrage

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UPDATE:
This statement is just in from Lewis-Palmer School District 38 spokesperson Julie Stephen:
Our community and country are in the middle of a season that has provided extensive opportunities for growth and awareness around systemic racism and discrimination. D38 remains committed to non-discrimination in relation to race, creed, color, gender, ancestry, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, and/or disability. We support our students, staff, families, and community with equity. We will not tolerate harassment or discrimination of students and/or staff based on the aforementioned areas.

A picture appeared on our School Board president’s personal Facebook page. Its content was offensive. It was taken down when Mr. Clawson saw it, and he has issued a public apology on his Facebook page. You may also view it on his D38 profile page
—————ORIGINAL POST 2:48 P.M. TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2020————————————-

A photo purportedly of child's play involving the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 board of education president and his kids has created a dust-up in the D-38 community, including a demand that the board chairman resign.

Matthew Clawson won't resign, but he issued a lengthy explanation and apology, assuring the public the photo, which showed two people mimicking the Nazi salute, doesn't represent his personal views.

The photo at issue is to the right.
screen_shot_2020-06-30_at_2.18.34_pm.png

Clawson issued this statement to the Indy, as well as to several other patrons of the school district who expressed outrage on Facebook:



I owe this community a sincere apology.

During a recent family vacation, a couple of my children participated in a birthday celebration. Sometime during the party, the children were acting silly and performing skits while wearing old Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Brothers type mustaches. The children posed and took pictures during the event. I did not see them do this. After being home from vacation for about a week, I was asked when I was going to post pictures from our vacation. I then allowed a family member to post photos to my Facebook account.

After an hour or so, I reviewed the photos posted and ran across a photo that was inappropriate and offensive and immediately took one picture down. Although the photo was taken in children’s play and without awareness it was nonetheless inappropriate and offensive. This type of picture has no place in our society.

The removal of the offensive picture resulted in significant family conversations. Unfortunately, the photo was on Facebook long enough for it to be viewed by a few of you in the community, despite the fact that it was removed before I was contacted by anyone expressing concern over the picture. My public service role means that my family and I are watched closely. I am sorry that we were not more sensitive to the effect this picture would bring.

I have spent decades fighting for religious freedom and the rights of all — irrespective of race, color, or sexual orientation. I want to take this opportunity to say that I support racial equality, social justice, and equity for all. I do not support the suppression of anyone or acts of racism.

In no way do I take the example I set lightly. I am grieved that this photo may have been construed as a reflection of my beliefs. This unfortunate incident is never appropriate at any time, but during these times it is extremely insensitive. Please accept my apology.

Sincerely,
Matthew Clawson
Not good enough, says Corey Grundel, a former employee of D-38 who also has two children who attend D-38 schools.

"I just don’t think our community can have him on the school board, especially as president," Grundel tells the Indy.

"While I appreciate [his apology], it falls short, because we can’t explain hate as child’s play," she says. Grundel notes that Clawson's apology addresses the mustaches as being reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin but doesn't address the arms raised in what has become almost exclusively associated with Adolph Hitler's Third Reich and Nazism.

"He’s supposed to represent all the families in the district. If his children are doing this and he didn’t see a problem, that’s not play. It’s certainly not play for people who are Jewish or people of color," Grundel says. "I would rather he take responsibility."



Grundel says she actually campaigned to get Clawson elected, which is why the incident has been heart-wrenching and has kept her up at night.

"I kept making excuses and tried to justify it," she says. "Then I thought, 'There's no justification for this.' This is where we need to say, 'Hey, we can do better.'"

Grundel has contacted the superintendent of schools, who is out of town and not available, seeking further action.

If no action is taken, Grundel says she might attempt to recall him from office.

"He is a public figure, and there is a higher standard," she says.

As of mid-afternoon June 30, Grundel's post of the photo had drawn 93 comments. Among them:

"School board president thinks it’s OK to have his kids post with the Nazi salute and Hitler mustache? 🤯🤬 I realize that people have been hypocrites since the beginning of time but it is amazing to me how many people still don’t understand what it means."

"Nothing is surprising anymore but still... so disappointing."

"Whoa."

"...this is one of the worst things I’ve seen on social media recently... and considering what’s going on in the world that’s saying a lot. Absolutely disgraceful."

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