Hot mic incident prompts call for school board president's censure

Douglas County School Board President Susan Jansen

Douglas County School Board President Susan Jansen

A formal censure of Douglas County School Board President Susan Jansen is being sought in connection with a hot mic slur about a speaker at the July 19 meeting.

During the School Board’s recent meeting on Aug. 8, Sherry McGuffin received a public apology from Jansen.

“Mrs. McGuffin, I sincerely from the bottom of my heart apologize to you,” said Jansen during Tuesday’s meeting.

McGuffin also asked that the other six board members censure Jansen for her conduct.

A video recording of the July 19 meeting showed Jansen covering her mouth and muttering “he’s a piece of sh-t and so are you,” after McGuffin had finished speaking during public comment, which she had done on behalf of her son who couldn’t make the meeting.

Jansen later confirmed the profanity use with the Record-Courier.

“Thank you for your apology,” said McGuffin on Tuesday. “I know it is very difficult to admit when you are in the wrong. I am here because I believe in accountability. I am here to ask the other six board members to discuss whether President Jansen should be censured for her conduct during the last meeting. Not just her inappropriate comments towards me, but for the disrespectful comments and attitude she directed toward Trustee (Linda) Gilkerson, Trustee (Tony) Magnotta and other members of the public.”

A censure is merely a warning and does not remove a member from their position or responsibilities.

“President Jansen, you are an elected official, even more you are president of a school board, and your behavior should be a model for the students in this district, students like my grandchildren,” said McGuffin. “I know you have not lived here very long, and you don’t have children who attended these schools, but we are good people and we expect our kids and our grandkids to be good people and it is our responsibility as adults to show them what that looks like.”

Out of the 29 public speakers both online and in person who spoke after McGuffin during Tuesday’s board meeting, 13 people spoke either in defense of the McGuffins or pointed out the board’s misconduct and behavior, while about 12 spoke on various other topics and four people defended Jansen in the July 19 incident and the boards’ behavior and conduct as whole.

Gilkerson made a motion that a future agenda item be placed on September’s school board meeting to discuss Jansen’s conduct, which was seconded by Trustee Carey Kangas.

“My future agenda item comes from the people, our community and also for myself,” said Gilkerson. “You did apologize, and I felt it was very sincere and I thank you for doing that, but it was a little too late.”

According to the Douglas County School District Code of Conduct, item number 7, which Gilkerson read publicly during the meeting, “Board members carry a public trust and should carry out their duties in a professional and courteous manner. Board members should strive to present their views in a professional and respectful manner working with fellow board members in a spirit of harmony and cooperation in spite of differences of opinion. Board members should extend every courtesy to those who appear before the board and nonverbal communication must be respectful.”

“We have a situation here where the violation was committed by the board president, therefore, I think we should have a future agenda item to censure President Jansen’s behavior. I believe that this item is timely, and I suggest that it is placed on September’s agenda so that students and employees and the community know that we take our Code of Conduct seriously,” said Gilkerson.

In order for Jansen to be censured, it will have to be discussed, and voted on by the other six board members and at least a majority to pass.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment