Elgin school board members clash over national anthem controversy
The controversy sparked by some NFL players’ national anthem protests played out locally this week between two rival school board members.
Jeanette Ward, a member of the Elgin Area School District Board, posted a comment on Sept. 26 by fellow board member Traci Ellis in which Ellis said “the flag means nothing more than toilet paper to me.”
“This was sent to me by a very concerned constituent,” Ward wrote on her Facebook page. “I disagree in the strongest possible terms.”
Ellis has since defended her remarks, which appeared on her private Facebook feed.
"The flag and the anthem are symbols in this country of freedom and 'justice and liberty' for all," she wrote on her public Facebook page. "Yet that is a blatant lie for black folks.”
Ward and Ellis clashed last year when Ward posted statements from African-American writer Jason Riley’s books during Black History Month. Ward repeated a passage from Riley that said, in part: “Blacks have become their own worst enemy, and liberal leaders do not help matters by blaming self-inflicted wounds on whites or 'society.'”
“I offered the quote with no commentary, and they said I was a racist for doing that,” Ward told the Kane County Reporter.
After posting the excerpt, Ward faced calls for her removal from the school board from Ellis and others, according to the Chicago Tribune. The story mentioned that dueling petitions – one in favor, one against – had been organized in response to what Ward posted.
The latest controversy has likewise garnered calls for Ellis' removal from the board, as well as support. Facebook comments have included, “If you are so miserable here, where would you like to live? We could start a go fund me for you," and “You are disgusting and very long-winded.”
For her part, Ward says she's a champion of the First Amendment.
“As you know, nothing’s private on Facebook,” she said. “I’m not trying to take away anyone’s free-speech rights, but there are consequences to the statements we make in public. I don’t think we should stifle anyone’s right to free speech. In fact, I fully agree and acknowledge she cannot be removed from the board except by election.”
According to Ballotopedia.org, Ellis and Ward are up for re-election in 2019.