Colorado Springs School District No. 11 Board Chair Al Roma again faced backlash and community outrage after citing the Bible and using the church’s signature in a message from the board’s official email address to promote religious rhetoric. facing complaints.
Email — Reply to D11 member and LGBTQ activist Joseph Shelton in the immediate aftermath of the Club Q shooting — Roma used his official board authority to talk about the church he pastored, LGBTQ and allies As.
This isn’t the first time Roma has been in hot water. In February, he faced student-led protests for his offensive comments and insulting behavior after stating: He wanted to “gangster slap” members, calling black male community groups “barking chihuahuas” and “thugs.”
He has also faced complaints in the past about religious references in official emails and publicity of his church from the rostrum. Despite repeated actions, the D11 board appears unwilling to do more than speak to Roma personally. business journalinstead emailed a statement that this was how the board handled Roma’s (and other board members’) interactions. In the past.
In an email exchange between Roma and Shelton that began on November 22nd, Shelton addressed Roma and Board Vice President Jason Jorgensen, Older anti-LGBTQ commentsShelton believes contributes to an overall unsafe environment for queer people in Springs.
Roma and Jorgensen invoked Christian faith to defend these comments. A complaint about Roma was filed with the Religious Freedom Foundation earlier this year. (FFRF) is a national organization that takes legal action against violations of the separation of Church and State.
After an unsuccessful Colorado Board of Education campaign last fall, Shelton felt compelled to reach out to Roma after the November 19 attack on Club Q in Colorado Springs. i think it was a hate crime For LGBTQ people at a gay friendly nightclub.
Shelton said: Commenting that LGBTQ+ inclusivity is not a key focus tells people it’s okay to shoot members of the LGBTQ+ community…”
Roma denied linking his religious rhetoric to the shooting, claiming he had a “right to hold on to genderism.” [sic] Belief does not negate my right to call it a mental disorder. ”
“The Bible clearly depicts the perversions you defend,” Roma said in an official email.
Roma’s email ended with a Bible verse that he said he had painted red. Men committed lewd acts with other men and were punished accordingly for their perversions. (You can read the full email exchange at here.)
Roma also authorized the email using his church title.Melpacam said the D11 board asked him not to when the previous FFRF complaint came out. In March, the FFRF sent a letter to the board urging them to “immediately refrain from using their position to promote and support religion because it violates the founding articles of the First Amendment.” .
This time, Roma told Melpacam that in this case, he “accidentally shared” the church’s email signature.
Rev. Al Loma, D11 Board
Victory Church Senior Pastor
Roma did not respond to a request for comment business journal — In fact, more than a year after the election, he still hasn’t set up his district-provided cell phone number to receive calls from the public.
of business journal I called the mobile number listed on the D11 website and confirmed with the staff. From 2013 he still has a voicemail box for Jim Mason, who was a D11 officer until 2021. Shelton also brought up the issue with the school district a few months ago.
“Slap on the Hand”
The D11 board appears to address Roma behavior in the same way it did with religious complaints about Roma in March.
“As far as religious citations are concerned, it was a private exchange between the Roma Director and the voters who responded to the voters who initiated the religious conversation,” Melpacam said in an email. , Shelton wrote in part: , so long as they did it in the name of God.”)
In a statement emailed after declining an interview, Melpacam said in the past:[w]We have chosen to address this with personal counseling and recovery conversations, as similar cases are taking place in schools.
“Some of our community may not be happy with the response and want stronger action.”
But Melpacam and other board members pledged in March to support further action if Roma’s behavior continues, Shelton said. (Melpacam did not directly answer questions about these promises, or any other specific questions. business journal about the problem. )
The board may formally take disciplinary action against Roma, which it considered following complaints in March. According to the board’s manual, this action would be taken if a director “has been involved in blatant misconduct or a series of misconduct, and other members are advised that more private counseling is effective in stopping such misconduct.” And don’t believe it’s done.
As stated in the manual, one of the expected behaviors of board members is that they “will not use offensive or questionable language or use labels that may offend directors, managers or the audience. Do not paste.
A conservative-majority board requires a majority vote to proceed with disciplinary action, a symbolic measure.It “simply expresses[es] According to the manual, the majority sentiment of the board of directors regarding the actions of board members.
Melpacam said of disciplinary action, “The collective will of the board will determine when that process begins.”
The remaining members of the Board of Directors business journalA request for comment on their position on the growing influence of Roma. Director Julie Ott, who has previously called for Roma’s disciplinary action, said in a December 13 message that she had nothing to add at this time. will update this story.)
Shelton said the time for action had passed, especially after Club Q’s attack.of Indy, business journalsister magazine of LGBTQ Activists Call To Blame Elected Officials The words of a colleague under attack and defaming that community, Shelton sees this as the responsibility of the D11 board members as well.
“Simple and clear Palt. [Melpakam] is the chairman of this board, and he continues the line, “Well, I had a conversation with them, and after our conversation, everything is fine,” and then a few weeks later it repeats again Clearly something is wrong.
“The school board does not have the authority to remove anyone from their position,” Shelton said, and Melpacam also said in his email. You have to vote in and have him removed on the way.
“But it’s still a question of accountability,” Shelton said. “If Pulse keeps slapping their hands…they slap them again. Clearly they haven’t learned from their mistakes.”
The Council’s actions against inflammatory rhetoric have escalated elsewhere.Most recently, School District 49, Member of the Board of Education Ivy Liu made a name for himself as a director and formally accused her of false claims about D49’s “indoctrination” at school. The chairman of that board, John Graham, decided that he and the other directors could no longer simply “fix” her behavior and move forward, before she decided to move forward with her efforts. I helped.
Shelton filed a complaint with FFRF about the November exchange with Roma. Chris Rein, a staff attorney for the organization, said he would write to the board again about the action, but there was nothing more FFRF could do, he told his Business Journal.
“In this case, there are board members who are clearly in violation of the law, but they are usually discharged in their individual capacity as board members.” And this allows legal action against the board or the district as a whole. No, said Line.
“Unfortunately, it has to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “It would almost take the school board itself to adopt what some of these crazy board members are doing. If we take formal board action on pushing forward, we have a better chance of taking legal action.”