NC school board member sparks controversy by blaming rise in COVID-19 cases on ‘illegal aliens’

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CONCORD, N.C. (WJZY) – Controversial comments made at a Cabarrus County School Board work session Monday night has raised some concerns among board members and people in the community.

During a discussion about where board members stand on kids wearing masks in schools, Vice Chair Tim Furr blamed the current rise in COVID-19 cases on “illegal aliens.”

“I’m not trying to be on a high horse, and I’m not trying to make this political, but until this government keeps illegal aliens by the thousands coming across that border without masks, with COVID, putting them on buses and sending them all over the United States, we’re just beating our heads against a wall,” said Furr.

Board member Keshia Sandidge attempted to interrupt Furr’s remarks, asking, “Are we serious right now?”

But, Board Chair Holly Grimsley stopped her, saying she was not allowed to interrupt.

Grimsley told FOX 46 the only reason she would not allow Sandidge to speak is that she was interrupting Furr, and as chair, it is her job to keep meetings orderly.

She also said Furr is an elected official and has the right to state his opinion, regardless of whether people agree with it.

Sandidge released a lengthy statement Tuesday afternoon in response to her outburst.

In it, she apologized for interrupting, but also asked Furr to apologize for his “inaccurate declaration.”

Last night, during an open discussion, I was uncomfortable with comments made by a colleague on the Cabarrus County Board of Education.  First, I want to publicly apologize to the community for my interruption during the session.  Nonetheless, at this critical time, it is important that we as a community do all we can to ensure communications regarding the coronavirus and its impact on our schools are accurate, well-informed and without bias. Health and safety must be at the forefront of all we do as a school board. Additionally, dignity and respect for all human beings must be at the center of our thoughts, comments, and actions. The universal fact is the coronavirus knows no borders, ethnic groups, genders, or religious affiliations; it is an equal opportunity killer!

Keshia Sandidge, Cabarrus County Board of Education

Sam Treadaway is a former Cabarrus County school administrator and is currently running for school board. He said he knows Furr personally and was “taken aback” by his comments.

He also said he is frustrated with how the public health crisis has become “politicized.”

“Just going to the World Health Organization tells you that the infection rate in the United States is much higher than in Mexico and Central America,” said Treadaway.

Furr also said he stands by his position on making masks optional in schools. Treadaway said he wishes school board members would listen to the guidance of public health experts.

“Our process, to me, is flawed in that we’re not taking the advice of our health officials. They’re not even in the room to have that conversation,” said Treadaway.

FOX 46 reached out to Furr regarding his comments at the meeting but did not get a response.  

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