Ohio school board head survives vote, apologizes for Hitler post (with video)

By Marc Kovac | R-C Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- State school board President Debe Terhar survived an attempt Monday to remove her from the leadership post after she displayed an image of Adolf Hitler and an erroneous quote about gun control on a social media site.

The 10-6 vote came after Terhar, who represents two Cincinnati-area counties, offered a formal apology and said she regretted the "hasty action."

"I wish to make it absolutely clear that it was never my desire or intention to offend anyone at anytime," she said. "I fully realize the sensitivity of the issue at hand, and I was wrong to repost something that could ever be perceived as insensitive by anyone."

She added, "I do ask for forgiveness for that mistake and give my complete assurance that this will never occur again. It is my hope that we can put this issue behind us and continue our important work together for Ohio's children."

The statement came at the start of this week's two-day board meeting and capped several weeks of media reports and political party maneuvering on the issue.

Terhar earlier admitted adding the image of Hitler, along with a quote concerning efforts to disarm citizens. She said she reposted the item on her personal Facebook page but did not intend to draw comparisons between the Nazi leader and President Barack Obama, in light of a national debate over the Second Amendment following the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

Some board members, like C. Todd Jones, said they hoped the apology would be the end of the public attention to Terhar's Facebook post and that the board could refocus on education.

"This is a thing that has dirtied everyone that it's touched," said Jones, an at-large member of the board. "I look at a print media that's taking this to borderline sensationalistic standards and levels of repetition. I've seen a political party make a fund-raiser out of this. ... I've been disappointed in some of my fellow board members... At some point this is going to end, and in my view it's going to end today."

But other board members said Monday's apology was too little, too late, and they urged Terhar to step down as president, citing thousands of letters, phone calls and electronic messages from upset constituents.

"President Terhar crossed the line of propriety and has become an embarrassment to our public school system, our state," said Ann Jacobs, representing much of northwestern Ohio. "She has garnered unwanted national attention and national press on our board of education. She has created a tremendous negative distraction, she must resign."

Monday's board meeting included a public comment period, where the spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party called for Terhar to step down and announced a lawsuit filed earlier in the morning over a public records request for Terhar's text messages.

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