An Elgin-area School District U46 board member made her first public comments Monday over the “distraction” and fallout over comments about the American flag she made on social media last week.
The evening school board meeting, which included the presence of Elgin Police officers, was the first after a Facebook comment from school board member Traci O’Neal Ellis equated the American flag and toilet paper.
“I completely own that as an elected official and as your colleague, I could have been more circumspect in my criticism” and more careful with what was written, she said. “Please accept my apology for this distraction from the great work happening in this district.”
In a post on her personal page Sept. 24, O’Neal Ellis stated her support for NFL players protesting the national anthem, and wrote that the flag was “nothing more than toilet paper to me.”
O’Neal Ellis did not apologize for her social media posts — she noted that her first post was in a private page — as she stood by her argument the flag is a symbol of the struggle and atrocities the African-American community has dealt with for centuries. O’Neal Ellis similarly defended her comments Sept. 26 on a separate Facebook post on her school board member page.
O’Neal Ellis said she has received hundreds of offensive comments from others online, but at Monday’s meeting the majority of people in attendance were supportive of her.
“Please do not be discouraged, you have friends and allies in this community,” said Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, an Elgin parent.
However, some in attendance spoke out against the board member.
“I’m appalled at the support she is getting for her heinous comments,” said Laura Prowicz, a resident from Hampshire. “I think she should step down.”
Board member Melissa Owens broke down talking about O’Neal Ellis, thanking her for her friendship as she dealt with racially charged conversations within her family over non-related matter in her past.
“When I asked Traci for help, she was very gracious,” she said. “We had long conversations, she didn’t have to do that. We need to have those conversations.”