OPRF High School District 200 holds special meeting to formally condemn the words of a board member


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 held a special board meeting Tuesday night to condemn and formally denounce the words of a board member.

Board member Matt Baron was defending a village trustee, who had been called a white supremacist on Facebook by a citizen, a Muslim woman.

Baron wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper, equating the woman's comment to terrorism.

This has festered for about a month in Oak Park.

Oak Park resident Deena Ali, a Muslim woman, spoke during the virtual board meeting on Tuesday.

"Let me tell you, we are not terrorists. That piece of opinion that was published it used a metaphor, a very strong metaphor and it's offensive to be honest. We are not terrorists, we are your neighbors," Ali said.

Sarah Dixon Spivey, the school board president, said "Mr. Baron's racist and Islamophobic remarks directly conflict this board's belief and racial equity and inclusion."

Matt Baron was in the meeting. He listened and did not speak. Instead, he released a statement Wednesday morning that read:

“In late November, I made a poor and hurtful analogy in my response to a community member’s controversial statement about another elected official. I have since apologized to that community member. I remain committed to racial equity and inclusivity in my community, at the high school and at all levels of society.

“It’s my hope that my record as a school board member, my years of public service, as well as a lifetime of demonstrating my values of respect for and inclusivity of everyone, are not overshadowed by a single regretful analogy.”