Debate continues in Northville after school board president's Facebook posts

School board meets again tonight at 6:30
Posted at 12:31 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 04:16:31-04

NORTHVILLE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Another Northville Public School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night, following a heated public comment portion on Monday night centered around board president Matthew Wilk.

Wilk was criticized over the weekend by Northville alumni and parents for comments shared on Facebook that downplay COVID-19.

One post, which has since been removed, suggested coronavirus "only exists in falsified statistics shouted on the news without context."

Another post said “How about we allow schools to reopen and grandma can take the extreme precautions? She can wear a spacesuit when she “needs” to go out and shop and the rest of the world can go on about their lives...”

“I am uncomfortable with someone who should be making decisions that are a-political that should be unbiased clearly having a very biased opinion," said Northville parent Christina Johnson over the weekend.

Wilk, who is up for re-election this year, oversaw Monday's virtual board meeting. During that meeting Wilk said his views are his own, however many Northville community members felt differently, stating that his leadership role in the district requires a different standard.

"As others have mentioned, this is not only incorrect, it is also incredibly harmful and potentially dangerous to the community at large," said a Northville alumni.

A petition calling for Wilk's resignation has more than 4,000 signatures. Per the school board's bylaws, "The Board may remove a member from a Board officer position, and, upon removal, shall fill the vacancy." Resignations are accepted without board approval.

Not everyone was angered by Wilk's Facebook posts, as the debate over whether to return to in-person classes in the fall continues in Michigan and around the country.

“He has the right to his opinion. And me personally? I think kids should go back to school, full time. And as a single working mom I need my kids to go to school," said Northville parent Priya Marwah during Monday's meeting.

“I think he’s an upstanding individual and I don’t see him anywhere off that board. If you wanted to give a censure I understand that because your opinions matter and they are quite valid. But to move him out of that position in a crisis time like this I think that would be a short-sighted decision," said Edward McCall during the meeting.

Wilk released this statement to 7 Action News Tuesday evening:

I probably should have followed my kids’ own rules to on the internet: everything you say will be twisted, misconstrued and taken out of context. It’s just the way things are in 2020. I’ve been the staunchest proponent of getting our kids back in school in the fall. Even the Governor thinks it can be done safely. I think the offense really ought to be directed at the ideas, not the messenger. I thank the hundreds of parents who sent me messages of support.

We also reached out to the school board for clarification on its social media policy, which is not clearly stated in the board's bylaws.

Tuesday's meeting is at 6:30 p.m.