California School Board Member accussed of cyber-bullying

Cyber-bullying is a big problem in schools.  However, this is the first time I can remember that a school board member has actually been accused of being the guilty party.

Dawn Turnbull was first elected to the Lucerne Valley United School District in 2010.  She was described by her local paper as “outspoken,” and that seems to be an understatement, given some of her Facebook comments.  According to local reports, Turnbull has used Facebook in the following ways:

  • Calling School Board Member Tom Courtney an “old man,” a “pervert” and a “pig of a person.” She apparently claimed that Courtney sexually harassed her, a charge that Courtney denies. In a later exchange, a friend says, “Want me to hurt him [in reference to Courtney]”, and Turnbull responds “Yes, … I do.”
  • Calling former School Board Member John Buchanan a “poor slob who works 24/7 and could barely make meetings.”  She also attacked Buchanan’s wife.
  • Discussing Superintendent Suzette Davis, Turnbull said, “”Now that I have found out who our Super really is, she is kissing (butt) to this low-life (Buchanan).”

There’s more, but these are the “highlights.”

Unsurprisingly, the most recent school board meeting drew significantly higher turnout than usual, with many attacking Turnbull and her comments.

Board meetings usually don’t feature members attacking each other publicly. However, apparently Board President Jim Harvey said, at the last meeting, “It’s an embarrassment that you’re on this board, and you need to resign immediately.”  Turnbull responded, “I won’t.”

A vote to censure Turnbull for her conduct passed by a 4-1, with only Turnbull voting no.  Turnbull is also now the target of a recall effort.

This is truly a sad case.  No one, let alone a public official, should ever threaten another with bodily harm.  And to insult other electeds and staff is truly inappropriate.  I suspect this is another case of social media not making anyone dumber, but giving someone with questionable judgement another venue in which they can display that lack of judgement.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

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