A hateful letter led a gay Georgia school superintendent to quit her job. The school board refused her resignation.
That’s the good news from Ben Hill County in South Georgia, where longtime educator Dawn Clements, who was recently appointed interim superintendent for her school district, was embraced by colleagues and the community despite a community member’s efforts to have her run out of town.
Clements submitted her resignation after a letter written by a local man circulated. The note to pastors in the county condemned the LGBTQ+ community and identified Clements as openly gay.
Clements, who has served as a teacher, coach, principal and administrator in the district, resigned her new post in response.
On Saturday, the Ben Hill County school board met and rejected Clements’ resignation.
Cheers erupted among hundreds of students and other community members and colleagues who gathered in support.
Clements has been at work in the district for 22 years.
“When something that hateful and mean-spirited is written about our people, we don’t like it,” said Beth McIntyre, an area blueberry farmer interviewed by Georgia Public Broadcasting.
She said she’d known Clements since she was a child, and called her an outstanding administrator.
“It was uncalled for,” McIntyre said of the hateful letter that lead Clements to resign. “The best thing, to me, that we can do to overcome that is for her to be our superintendent and to move right on.”
McIntyre said stress from the letter led Clements to quit, and she hasn’t responded publicly to the controversy.
“She’s a low-key person,” McIntyre said. “She doesn’t want to be a poster child.”
LGBTQ+ rights group Georgia Equality applauded Clements and the people of Ben Hill County. Executive Director Jeff Graham said the community’s response reaffirms his faith in Georgians.
“It is very heartening to see a community come out so overwhelmingly in support of someone who simply is just, by all accounts, worthy of doing a good job and should continue to be employed by the school district,” Graham said.
Area resident Danny Pate has been identified as author of the letter.