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An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

Union County School Board Member Resigns Over 'Inappropriate' Facebook Posts

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Union County Public Schools
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Union County School Board chair Melissa Merrell speaks Monday at a press conference announcing the resignation of Travis Kiker from the board.

Union County School Board member Travis Kiker resigned Monday after other board members learned about Facebook posts that board Chair Melissa Merrell described as "insensitive and inappropriate."

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Credit Union County Public Schools
Travis Kiker

Merrell read his statement at a morning news conference. It said that "in light of recent events, I believe my continued service will serve as a distraction to our key priority: our 42,000 children and 5,400 employees."

Kiker's statement did not address the posts and he did not appear at the news conference.

Monday afternoon the district sent a news release that included four items from Kiker's Facebook page. They included racist memes and a video shared from another source questioning the moral values of Black people and disparaging Black Lives Matter protesters.

She said Monday's resignation, which is effective immediately, came after a weekend of conversations with Kiker, other board members, the superintendent and legal counsel. Kiker, a Monroe insurance agent, was elected as a Republican in 2018. Board policy calls for the county's Republican executive committee to name a replacement.

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Credit Union County Public Schools
One of the memes on board member Travis Kiker's Facebook page.

Later Monday the board voted 7-0 to form a citizens' advisory committee on diversity. Merrell said she and other board members have been hearing that students at three high schools were discussing how they felt about treatment in Union County schools.

The district's enrollment is 59% white, 19% Hispanic and 12% Black.

Board members agreed it makes sense to launch a districtwide review.

"Anytime that we can have a dialogue, versus some of the more extreme actions that we've seen around our state and around our country, I think that's a good thing," said member Gary Sides.

Superintendent Andrew Houlihan told the board he and his staff support forming a diversity panel. It will include students, administrators, employees, community members and faith partners, Merrell said.