A Missouri woman, Jeanie Ames, is running for the Parkway School Board, and parents and community members are concerned about her history of making racist, Islamophobic, transphobic, and anti-immigrant statements on social media. She also describes herself as a “Confederate” in her Twitter bio.
Ames has been very involved in local education, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She graduated from Parkway Central High School and served on the PTO for Parkway Central Middle School. She also taught at an elementary school in the Ritenour School District.
Ames has retweeted a tweet with the message “Anti-Islam” and “To be opposed to evil is to be opposed to Islam! Let the crusade begin! Ban Islam in America!” with a drawing of a Crusader. She also called former First Lady Michelle Obama a “giant rat.” When a woman tweeted about a son’s school assignment to write a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. about “what’s WRONG with America,” Ames responded, “Second paragraph should include sanctuary cities, lottery visas, chain immigration, and DACA. Congressional Black Caucus can be paragraph unto themselves [wink emoji].”
Ames made her Twitter account private and created a new one, but she has not been apologetic about her social media presence so far. Ames said some Parkway residents are opposed to her as a candidate because she is conservative and told the Dispatch in an email, “To say children and education are not my concern is erroneous.”
Ames went on a conservative radio show on Thursday morning, Allman in the Morning, hosted by Jamie Allman. Allman asked Ames about the “corrupt media” and “statist leftist individuals” who he said are trying to intimidate her.
Ames said, “Let’s talk about the fact that the people that are attacking me are so left. Several of them that are actually reporting this are atheists that are very pro-choice to the point where they’re pro-sex ed.”
Ames said she has been dedicated to public education her entire life, “So to make fun of or call me a confederate or racist, you know what, waste your own time. I’m going to be over here fixing Parkway.”
She did not directly address any of the issues people had with her social media posts, except to respond to people who took issue with her putting the word “Confederate” on her Twitter bio. Ames said she is a direct descendant of one of the Hatfields of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. The majority of the Hatfields fought on the Confederate side during the Civil War.
“It’s a long running sort of sense of pride but in tongue-in-cheek sort of way,” she said.
Ames said that her critics who support “identity politics” won’t win and that “they woke up the grizzly.”
Parents and community members have said they’re worried that Ames won’t be concerned about the needs of students of color. Mufti Asif Umar, the imam of Daar-Al-Islam Masjid, a mosque in the school district said it is “disturbing” that Ames is running.
“The students deserve leaders who will be supportive to all of them, regardless of their race and ethnic background,” he said.
There are a few social media posts that specially refer to education, according to St. Louis Public Radio. Ames retweeted a James Wood tweet that read, “The World is fighting Islamic Terrorism, Starvation & Disease; but Democrats are fighting for Men to pee in the Ladies’ Room” and included her quoted comment, “Pretty much sums up my BoE run.” She also tweeted, “Equity=ContrivedSocialJustice=ContrivedPoliticalCorrectness” which could call into question how she intends to close opportunity gaps for students of color.
Despite the evidence of screenshots of Ames’ social media posts calling Muslims evil, Parkway Board of Education President Beth Feldman told St. Louis Public Radio, “I think it’s difficult to judge just by seeing snippets of someone’s social media posts.”
Parkway schools spokeswoman Cathy Kelly told the outlet that the district has received calls from parents about Ames’ school board candidacy. She will be listed on the April 3 ballot.
This isn’t the first time educators, school organizations’ staff, and school board candidates have been in the news for racist or transphobic views or connections to people who expressed those views. Last year, a Virginia school board candidate, John Kinchen, received media attention for devoting an entire campaign video to informing voters that he does not approve of welcoming school environments for transgender students. In his video, he targeted one student who was not transgender. The student said he likes to wear makeup and commented in his yearbook, “I wish people would teach their children to be open minded about things because that would save a lot of problems.” Kinchen lost.
Recently, ThinkProgress discovered that John Goldman, a man who writes under the name Jack Murphy, and has made many misogynist, queerphobic, and anti-immigrant statements, worked for the the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB) and that he had been placed on “administrative leave pending an investigation.” He wrote, “Feminists need rape. … It is our duty as men to save feminists from themselves” and tweeted, “What have we learned lately? Illegals don’t rape kids: FALSE. Trump supporters are threatening JCC’s: FALSE. Women are oppressed: FALSE.” His role at the organization is to lead the School Finance Team, which is in charge of financial oversight.
Parents are running for their local school board to oppose hateful messages, however. A school board member in an Ohio school district resigned after the community discovered that his son was part of a recreation league basketball team that had racist jerseys. Two local parents, Tom Squires and Adrian Williams, have applied for the school board in the hope of replacing him. They would be first Black school board members in the board’s entire history, according to Cincinnati.com.
“The district must do the right thing. That means understanding minorities in your community and understanding how they are feeling, making decisions that are fair and balanced, and building some type of diversity within the school system because right now, there isn’t any,” Squires, who is a former linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, told Cincinnati.com.