Tim Stillings said Thursday night he would step down as chairman of the Franklin Special School District’s Board of Education after he had shared a racially insensitive meme on his personal Facebook page last week.
In a special-called board meeting that was held through Zoom, Stillings apologized to his fellow board members, the FSSD families and the community at large for “creating this controversy … [and] this unnecessary distraction from the good work that we do.”
He also took the opportunity to yield his position as chair. The board will be electing officers at Monday’s upcoming regularly scheduled meeting.
“After serving as chairman for six years and especially in light of this incident, I believe it’s time for someone else to serve as chair,” said Stillings, who was first elected to the six-member FSSD board in 1998.
Stillings explained that he was sitting in a waiting room last Thursday thumbing through the newsfeed of his Facebook account and came across a meme that he shared “without thinking,” and later realized it was derogatory toward a segment of NFL players and considered racist.
When it came to his attention how inappropriate it was, he immediately deleted the meme and posted an apology. The school board released a statement regarding the incident over the weekend, posting it on the district’s website and its social media accounts.
“This has been a very difficult learning experience for me, and I hope I set the example going forward by serving as a teaching example,” Stillings said at Thursday’s meeting, adding that he has met with leaders in the Black community and will continue conversations with them.
“In my rush and carelessness I shared a public posting that was racially insensitive, and for that I deeply apologize. I’m embarrassed that I did not initially see that.”
All the other five board members — Alicia Barker, Allena Bell, Robert Blair, Robin Newman and Kevin Townsel — accepted Stillings’ apology.
“It was definitely surprising last week,” Barker said, addressing Stillings. “However, hopefully we can all learn from this and we can all take something away from this. I’ve known you for a long time and I know you serve with the kids in mind. You bring a lot of different qualities to this table and for the board.”
Click here to view the meeting on the FSSD website.