Heated exchange interrupts Penfield Board of Education meeting | WHEC.com

Heated exchange interrupts Penfield Board of Education meeting

Updated: June 09, 2021 03:37 PM
Created: June 08, 2021 11:07 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Officials with the Penfield Central School District are calling the behavior of a board member and a parent at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting "unacceptable."

A parent from the Penfield Central School District provided News10NBC video of the incident. Watch it in the video player above.

The parent told News10NBC the exchange occurred during heated public comments about the diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum. As heard in the video, school board members are chided by parents for being disrespectful. Then, one board member appears to stand and utter profanity.

"At last night’s Board of Education meeting, tensions were high following the public comment period and Board member William Yaeger engaged in a heated exchange with a parent," the district said in a statement Wednesday. "Mr. Yaeger addressed the parent using inappropriate language, which led the parent to jump onto the stage in the auditorium where the meeting was being held. The behavior of both parties was unacceptable."

News10NBC spoke to Rich Tyson, who was in the middle of the exchange. He said it all started because William Yaeger was being disrespectful to an older woman in the crowd trying to speak. Tyson says Yaeger was mocking and bullying the woman, and that's when he got frustrated. 

Tyson said he yelled across the auditorium at Yaeger for him to be respectful. He claims Yaeger motioned him to come up on stage, so Tyson said he did and again told Yaeger to stop being disrespectful. He said Yaeger had to be physically restrained, and he was eventually escorted out of the building.

“On behalf of the Board, I want to publicly acknowledge that Mr. Yaeger’s behavior was completely inappropriate,” Board President Mark Elledge said. "As a Board, it is our job to listen and to treat our community with respect."

District officials also ask "community members to present their comments and concerns in a peaceful manner and to treat the Board members with respect." 

The district says they will review protocols for board meetings and the public comment period. Yaeger’s term on the board ends on June 30, and the board does not meet again until July.

News10NBC reached out to several board members Tuesday night but did not hear back. 

"The Penfield Board of Education holds a public comment period at each meeting," the district said in a statement Tuesday. "This is a time for residents to share comments and concerns with the Board. Following the public comment period at tonight’s meeting, an exchange between a resident and a Board member became heated. The situation escalated and the meeting was immediately recessed. Since all meetings are also streamed and accessible online, the public was cleared and the meeting was reconvened in a virtual format so that the Board could complete its business."

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