In March, a group of concerned parents led by Chelle Brown raised concerns about explicit sexual content in books available in Georgia’s Cherokee County School District (CCSD) libraries. A school board member attempted to silence Brown. Patsy Jordan ironically stated that the content Brown was reading from a book found in a CCSD library was inappropriate if children were listening. The video of Brown’s speech went viral. However, what happened to another mother during and after the March meeting is just becoming public.
Brenda Danielle Reprieto entered the March CCSD meeting as the mother of a student and substitute teacher in the district. Within days of making a brief out-of-order comment while CCSD Board Chairwoman Kyla Cromer spoke, Reprieto was fired from her teaching position and barred from all school district property.
While Cromer was defending keeping the explicit content in the library, Reprieto stated from the audience, “You should be arrested.” In response, Cromer threatened, “You could be removed.” In the chairwoman’s two and half minute speech, the exchange lasts approximately 10 seconds, beginning at 1:53 in the video:
While Cromer continues to speak, Clark Menard, the member second in from the left, gestures and points out in the audience. According to Reprieto and Chelle Brown, who was sitting next to Reprieto, the board member was motioning to officers present at the meeting and pointing toward them. After a few minutes, three officers approached Reprieto.
According to Brown, the officers told Reprieto that the board wanted her to leave. She asserted she had a right to be there and asked them if they understood the discussion at the meeting. The officers said it was not their call. She tried to reason with them and assert she had a right to be there. As the discussion continued, Brown encouraged Reprieto to go with the officers.
When Reprieto exited into the vestibule, she asked officers where she could wait for the other attendees. They told her she could be charged with criminal trespass if she did not leave the property. They added that she broke the board’s rules.
After Reprieto left, Menard lectured parents for a full minute about disrupting meetings. “We will not continue to allow you to disrupt and create scenes,” he warned. Menard then asked how exchanges, like the one about sexualized content, were beneficial to students. The tone is pretty amazing.
The next day, Reprieto was teaching at Cherokee High School. She was removed from her assigned classroom, told all of her future assignments were canceled, and she found out she was locked out of the system used to claim days. A few days later she received a warning letter via certified mail banning her from all CCSD property. This included her daughter’s school and future board meetings. Reprieto also votes at a CCSD school as her assigned precinct. The letter reads:
In compliance with Georgia Code 16-7-21(b)(3) and 20-2-1180, you are hereby put on notice that you are not to enter onto the property or premises of all Cherokee County School District Board of Education Properties. The property and/or premise belongs to Cheorkee County School System and this notice is being given to you by an authorized representative/agent of the Cherokee County School System.
In the future, if you enter/remain on the property or premise, without written permission, after receiving this notice you may be arrested for the offense of Criminal trespass or any other offenses that may be applicable.
There is no hearing in court and no appeals process as there would be with a typical restraining order in the state of Georgia. The school board through the assigned school police force from the city police is able to ban a mother and taxpayer from all school district property for speaking out of turn at a board meeting with no due process.
Reprieto’s attorney, David Oles, called it revenge. “This was naked retaliation for Brenda asserting that board members should be arrested for allowing pornographic content to be available in school libraries without restriction to impressionable children,” he said.
When I requested a comment from Board Chairwoman Cromer, the CCSD chief communications officer, Barbara Jacoby, responded. Jacoby stated:
A woman was escorted from the March 17, 2022 School Board meeting after refusing repeatedly to heed CCSD school police officers’ orders to stop disrupting the meeting. She did not speak during public participation – she was shouting from the audience and disrupting the meeting.
After the woman repeatedly disrupted the meeting, police officers were in the audience with her for more than 10 minutes as she continued to be disruptive and would not heed their orders. She continued to argue with police officers in the lobby and also in the parking lot. The police officers decided not to charge her, but instead issued a criminal trespass order.
District personnel responding to inquiries for the board that is supposed to oversee them seems kind of like the State Department press secretary answering questions for members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
A full video of the meeting is no longer available online. I asked if the district wished to provide videos to support the allegations in Jacoby’s e-mail and the account of events in the meeting minutes. Jacoby quoted a cost of $55 to provide the video to bolster her claims, which are not in evidence on the attendee videos.
The complete video of Reprieto’s interaction with police while in the audience is less than three minutes while the meeting carried on without interruption. The viral video of Brown’s speech to the board also demonstrates that Reprieto was not the only attendee adding color commentary at the meeting. She was the only one officers approached that evening and the only one to be barred from attending future meetings.
Jacoby also stated that Reprieto’s employment was at will and that the criminal trespass order prevented her from continuing to work as a substitute teacher. She added, “She [Reprieto] has been given permission to attend all events at her child’s school that are open to parents.”
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