The other day, in Virginia, we learned that Radford High School Principal Jeff Smith posted some ridiculous reactions after the local city council voted to end Christian invocations at meetings and replace them with a moment of silence.
Smith said the “new council members are ultra-liberal” and that the vote wasn’t a surprise because “an atheist, an agnostic, and a spineless opportunist were elected.” As if inclusive city council meetings were part of some sort of godless liberal conspiracy and Radford would be better off without atheists in elected office.
At the most recent city council meeting, one former student in the District spoke out about Smith’s awful remarks:
One lifelong community member and Radford City Schools graduate, Hannah Martin, spoke in favor of the change [to a moment of silence] and mentioned Smith’s posts during her public comment.
She broke down in tears as she told the council how much Smith’s comments upset her.
“He was my teacher when I was in middle school. He seemed fair to me. He seemed well-educated, but he’s not putting it to good use,” Martin told The Roanoke Times. “I’m frustrated and I’m angry. What if I was a Muslim student [at Radford High School]? I would feel excluded. He represents the city as a whole.”
When The Roanoke Times contacted Smith for comment, he didn’t speak with them.
But it looks like the pressure was intense because he finally issued a public statement that was posted last night on the District’s Facebook page.Smith literally says he makes “no apologies” for his beliefs but claims that he would never treat people differently if they disagree.
Over the past few days, many individuals have expressed concerns about comments made by me on social media. Those who know me know I am a man of strong convictions; for this, I make no apologies. My comments, however, were intemperate, impulsive, visceral, and unnecessarily personal.
Over the past 32 years as an educator, I have never, and will never, make a decision out of a sense of vindictiveness or because of someone’s personal beliefs. In fact, such actions would be inconsistent with my core values. Rather, decisions will be made as they always have been: in accordance with the facts as they relate to the policies of the Radford City Schools, local, state, and federal law, and balancing the best interest of the individual with the necessity of maintaining a safe, orderly, and productive learning environment while protecting the due process rights of all involved.
Let me assure you, the physical, psychological, and emotional well-being of everyone under my leadership is of utmost importance to me. As has been the case in the past, I will work tirelessly to make Radford High School a safe, welcoming environment for all stakeholders, especially for all the students who walk through the doors of our school each and every day.
In closing, I would like to apologize to any of you who feel I have violated your trust. My pledge to you is to do everything within my power to regain that trust.
Let’s say we give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he wouldn’t treat students or staffers differently for disagreeing with him. We still know how he feels about atheists and agnostics. He doesn’t give a damn about them. He treats those words as slurs. How does he think he’ll regain that trust when he thinks Christianity should be the government’s default religion?
If I were a student at his school, I’d find a way to coexist with him, but I sure as hell wouldn’t respect him. Not when I know he looks down upon students who know the different between fact and fiction.
If this statement is his way of regaining trust, it didn’t work. He has a long way to go.
He could start by publicly apologizing to the city council at the next meeting.