Ward 7 State Board of Education Rep. Karen Williams‘ call for At-Large SBOE Rep. Ashley MacLeay to resign has backfired. About a week ago, MacLeay used racist tropes when speaking against an SBOE resolution to remove armed police officers from D.C. schools, and yesterday, Williams officially demanded that MacLeay step down.
In response, MacLeay tweeted a screenshot of her text exchange with Williams from the night the board voted on the resolution in which Williams writes that she agrees with MacLeay’s comments and appears to contradict the vote she later cast support of the resolution.
“I actually agree with you!” Williams texted MacLeay at 11:43 p.m. last Wednesday. “Uncomfortable place for me to be also. I was once a law enforcement officer. Ebony Rose [sic] is running against me so this is completely political and I hate it.”
Eboni-Rose Thompson was not immediately available for comment.
Williams sent the text right after MacLeay finished speaking in opposition to the resolution, MacLeay tells LL. Williams voted in favor of the resolution. MacLeay was the only member to vote against it.
Reached by phone this morning, Williams says she hadn’t seen MacLeay’s tweet but confirmed that the messages were authentic when LL read them aloud.
Williams tells LL that she believes police officers have a place in schools in some circumstances. But “I think it’s up to the school,” she says. “So long as the students don’t feel intimidated by the police officers. That was the issue.”
Williams says she conducted a quick survey of high schools in Ward 7 and cast her vote last week based on their responses. “Some schools wanted it, and some schools didn’t,” she says. “We live in Ward 7, you know, there have been shootings and killings in Ward 7, so the atmosphere is whether the students feel safe there or not. And if police officers make them feel safe, they should be there.”
It appears to LL that in her text Williams is saying she only voted in favor of the resolution because she’s up for re-election this year. When he asked Williams to clarify, her husband came on the other line saying that he cut his finger and needed her help.
“OK, I gotta go,” Williams said. LL followed up in an email. He’ll update this post if he hears back.
Ward 8 SBOE Rep. Markus Batchelor writes in a text message that the drama unfolding between Williams and MacLeay is a distraction from the “urgent and important decisions ahead of our city.
“The stakes are too high for our students to tolerate distractions from the work, outdated solutions to our toughest challenges, political posturing or backwards-thinking leadership at the table,” he writes. “I hope my colleagues apologize and make room for the work ahead.”
Williams has drawn a total of four challengers for the general election in November, including Thompson, Charles Boston, Dontrell Smith, and Patricia Stamper.
Five people are running for the at-large seat, and so far, MacLeay’s name is not among them.