What follows is an email exchange we had with the Multnomah Educational Service District regarding Board member Ron Chinn's bigoted remarks regarding students with disabilities. It was initially posted in the comment section of the "Special Needs" post on our blog. However; they've passed a resolution which we feel needs more exposure so we're giving this it's own posting. It's probably a good idea not to let this dude off too lightly. We first emailed them on 1/16/07:
Dear MESD Board Members,
While watching the morning news on KGW this morning I heard a brief report pertaining to something a Multnomah ESD board member was quoted as saying last month at a MESD board meeting. Apparently Ron Chinn stated that students requiring special education services are “a bunch of slabs - slow, low and belows”. Aside from the use of poor grammar to state his belief, Ron has come out with what he’s likely privately thought for some time. I’m writing to express the Disability Activists Work Group’s (DAWG Oregon) official position on his words and obvious mindset.
I am also requesting a response from the rest of the board.
DAWG believes there is no room for such blatant bigotry toward students with developmental disabilities ANYWHERE in our community. In the last state legislature the Respectful Language bill was passed, making law what is really common sense anyway. For someone in a position of being a board member charged with oversight of programs that support these students to come out with such language is appalling, disturbing, and intolerable.
We believe that if similar derogatory words were used to describe his feelings about African Americans, Latinos, women, or the gay and lesbian communities, much more than censure would be happening.We believe that the Multnomah ESD must take immediate measures to remove Ron from the board, effectively demonstrating a zero tolerance for bigotry among all of its administration, employees, staff, and volunteers.
Members of the Disability Activists Work Group
Dear DAWG members:
On January 16, 2007, the Board of MESD voted to censure Mr. Chinn and publicly repudiate his remarks. The Board and this agency find his views to be repugnant. Mr. Chinn is an elected official and the Board has no legal authority to force his resignation or require him to make amends for his thoughtless and cruel remarks. In this instance the Board, MESD's unions, employees and mangement joined with the general public to express our lack of tolerance for such remarks. It is now up to Mr. Chinn to make the honorable decision to step down. Your email dated 1/16/07 was read aloud at the Board meeting as part of the official record. If members of your group would like an opportunity to address the Board or Mr. Chinn in person, the next board meeting is on February 20, 2007 at 7 p.m. I believe Mr. Chinn's email address is published at the MESD website. Thank you for expressing your concerns in such a timely fashion.
Harry Ainsworth Vice Chair MESD
January 19, 2007 3:39 PM
Then this came in yesterday afternoon:
February 6, 2007
Members of the Disability Activists Work Group
[Sent via e-mail]
I am writing at the request of the Board in response to your comments and questions regarding the MESD Board’s actions and Board member Ron Chinn’s intentions since his comments about special education students at the December 19, 2006 meeting. The Board lacks any authority to dismiss Mr. Chinn or to require his resignation. The Board did pass a resolution at the January 16, 2007 meeting censuring him for his comments (resolution enclosed). The Board also intends to propose a resolution for the February 20, 2007, 7:00 p.m. meeting requesting Mr. Chinn to resign from the Board or at least to announce his intention to not seek re-election.
Mr. Chinn has apologized for his comments. He has declined to indicate his intentions of whether he plans to resign or to seek re-election to the Board.
The filing timeline for Board positions is from February 5 through March 15, 2007.
Edward L. Schmitt
c: Board Members
RESOLUTION 07-01 – Board Member Ron Chinn’s Remarks at the December Board Meeting (12/19/06)
WHEREAS during the December Board meeting Board member Ron Chinn referred to students with disabilities as “a bunch of people that were low IQ’d, what I call a bunch of SLABs, slow, low and belows,” and when questioned, Mr. Chinn responded that his remarks were “simply a statement of fact.”
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Board disagrees with Mr. Chinn’s derogatory and discriminatory remarks and finds that:
Mr. Chinn’s remarks showed a lack of respect for the individual dignity of the students and a lack of empathy for their parents and guardians;
Mr. Chinn’s remarks showed a lack of appreciation for the dedication and work of our staff who serve the students;
Mr. Chinn’s remarks showed a lack of awareness of the District’s legal obligations to the students; and
Mr. Chinn’s remarks showed a lack of responsibility in using his position as a Board member to express the remarks during a Board meeting.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Board reaffirms its support for the goal that the “MESD shall respect the diverse values of its community and the dignity of each individual and shall help each student enrolled in its instructional programs” in the learning process as stated in Board Policy AE-AR – Instructional Service Goals, and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution shall be attached to the minutes of the December Board meeting (12/19/06) to demonstrate the Board’s opposition to Mr. Chinn’s remarks.