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Two leaders of the Jefferson County, Colo., Parent Teacher Association, in the district where 12 students and a teacher were murdered by two seniors at Columbine High School in 1999, have been caught joking about guns and the school board.
A report from WatchdogWire, a project of the The Franklin Center to train “citizen journalists,” contains the details.
The comments came in a Jan. 30 Twitter exchange between PTA President Michele Patterson and PTA Vice President Shawna Fritzler. The district has been embroiled in tension since voters recently installed a conservative majority on the district’s board, prompting resentment from the PTA and the resignation of the superintendent.
The report includes comments from Fritzler that “Witt” – one of the new conservatives on the board, Ken Witt – “wants to appt PTA committee.”
Patterson’s response: “What?”
Fritzler: “person to PTA bd.”
Patterson: “Ohhh, okay. He should do it himself. :)”
Fritzler: “can I interrupt him then?”
Patterson: “He will have to be formally recognized by me to speak :)”
Fritzler: “fine but I get to be rude.”
Patterson: “That goes w/o saying.”
Patterson: “Williams has publicly stated she dislikes PTA, it shouldn’t be her.”
Fritzler: “probably not. I’m too liberal. Cleaning my guns tonight. …”
Patterson: “Will you teach me to shoot? :)” responded.
“Williams” is Julie Williams, the second of the three conservatives on the five-member board now. The third is John Newkirk.
“I find it offensive that leaders of our JeffCo Parent Teachers’ Association would publicly joke about learning to shoot in context of being frustrated with a school board member, given the history our school district has had,” Sheila Atwell of the Jeffco Students First organization told WatchdogWire.
It was April 20, 1999, when students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris attacked Columbine High School with dozens of explosive devices, bombs and guns.
In addition to the 12 students and one teacher murdered, another 24 were injured. The two then committed suicide.
Shortly after the conservatives were elected by voters, Patterson criticized them in a Denver Post column for hiring an attorney of the majority’s choosing for certain projects.
WatchdogWire reported Patterson then complained she was subjected to “bullying.”
The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity was set up to monitor an estimated 87,000 government units across the nation.
“With transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility as our watchwords, Franklin Center identifies, trains, and supports journalists working to detect and expose corruption and incompetence in government at the state and local levels,” the site explains.