A heated exchange led to an altercation between a resident and a school board member, ending the Tuesday school board meeting early, Fox 61 reported.
A Board of Education meeting for Glastonbury Public Schools (GPS) in Connecticut culminated in district resident, Mark Finocchiaro, punching school board member Ray McFall to the ground after McFall left the stage, confronted Finocchiaro and pushed him while McFall was supposed to be voting on a petition under dispute, Fox 61 reported.
The school board was gathered to consider a petition calling on the board to reverse its decision to change the mascot from the Tomahawks to the Guardians, Fox 61 reported. Almost 40 residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, but Finocchiaro’s speech was the only one that resulted in a confrontation with board members on the stage after his time was called.
Finocchiaro argued “this is the history of our town,” regarding the Tomahawks mascot, and a school board member responded by saying that he was “not paying attention.”
“You’re not paying attention, but they are,” Finocchiaro said while pointing to the audience.
The superintendent ended the meeting after the fight broke out and the police arrived, Fox 61 reported. The police are currently investigating the incident, but no arrests have been made.
“I was there just to watch and I didn’t know I would end up being involved in separating an argument or a physical fight,” Glastonbury Town Councilman and police officer John Cavanna told Fox 61. “They’re upset about the mascot, but they were much more upset about the manner in which the Board of Education went about removing it.”
The board decided to phase out the Tomahawk mascot in August of 2020 during virtual meetings due to the pandemic, which the public said made them feel left out of the process of making the decision, Fox 61 reported. Those in favor of keeping the original mascot reportedly believe it is part of the town’s history.
“I would like to see us put a formal letter together to both of our federally recognized tribes and reach out to any actual Native Americans that live here in Glastonbury for their opinions,” school board member Jenn Jennings told Fox 61. “And the question is what can we do as a town to bring Native American studies into our schools.”
The meeting ended with no decision on the mascot name, Fox 61 reported.
“The Board of Education appreciates that there will always be passionate testimony when controversial issues are considered,” Alan Bookman, superintendent of GPS said in a statement, NBC Connecticut reported. “But, it is critical that we listen to each other with respect and follow meeting rules so that everyone can be heard.”
GPS and its Board of Education members did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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