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Faculty member for Central Ohio elementary school apologizes for social media post; district investigating

The post was made earlier this month by Damicka Bates, who is listed as an assistant principal at Tussing Elementary.
Credit: Pickerington Local School District
A photo of Damicka Bates

An assistant principal in the Pickerington Local School District has her promotion to principal rescinded after a social media post on her personal Facebook page showed profane language critical of police.

The post was made earlier this month by Damicka Bates, who is listed as an assistant principal at Tussing Elementary during the 2019-2020 school year on the district's website.

She was approved by the board in May to be the principal of Pickerington Elementary this coming school year.

At the district school board meeting Monday, members approved her to stay as an assistant principal at a building to be determined.

Board president Lori Sanders said during the meeting, "As you may know, this Board has adopted policy governing an employee’s use of social media. We respond to an employee’s speech if it disrupts the work of our District or harms our goodwill and reputation in the community. The board of education does not endorse any viewpoints expressed in Ms. Bates' private social media posts. Ms. Bates has initiated a plan to make amends with members of our community and local law enforcement, who were understandably upset by her social media post. This plan will include collaboration with law enforcement on educational initiatives that will benefit our students."

In an apology posted by Bates soon after the original post was made, she said she and her family took a trip downtown to see the artwork related to the recent protests.

She said when she posted the photos to Instagram, the photos were automatically posted to Facebook.

Bates said one of the photos automatically posted was an uncropped version showing her daughter posing by graffiti with a phrase critical of police.

She said she immediately took the post down once she was made aware of it and apologized to officers, their families, and friends.

Her full apology that she posted publicly to her Facebook page is below:

"Last night, a post surfaced with a picture of my daughter posing in front of graffiti that was derogatory towards police. I would like to be very clear: That statement does not reflect the views of myself or my family. We did not write those words and we do not agree with those words. On the day of the photograph, my family had taken a trip downtown to view the artwork on the boards in relation to the recent protests. My husband and I wanted to use this experience as an educational trip with our children to provide them more perspective in regards to the protests around the world. Later that day, I created a post and shared 10 pictures of our day via Instagram. The preview of the photo in question was cropped on Instagram and did not include the derogatory statement in it. After I posted it, it automatically posted to my Facebook page which showed the entire picture. As soon as I was made aware of it and its contents, I removed the photo immediately. This was a mistake and I take full responsibility for it. As a leader in our community, my intent was never to post something that was polarizing or deemed disrespectful to any particular group of people. Though my social media posts often stand for social equality, I also understand the important role that police officers play in social progress. I appreciate their efforts in keeping our community safe, especially during this time of extreme tension. I am aware of the hurt I have caused. To the police officers, their families and friends, I truly apologize. Moving forward, I will be more mindful of the content that is shared on social media and make sure it aligns with the views that I have. I am fully committed to working with our community, police officers and educators as we continue to move forward together."