OSSEO, Minn. (KMSP) - In a letter to district leaders the chair of the Osseo School Board, Robert Gerhart, stated that he was stepping down for the greater good of the organization.
His announcement was made more than a week after he made a proposal to arm school staff and days after offensive social media posts began to spread.
“[I'm] speechless—it’s disgusting,” said Jesse Winkler, the parent of a student.
Anti-muslim and racist comments were posted to social media with disturbing images. The man allegedly behind the posts was Gerhart.
Last week Gerhart sparked a firestorm when he suggested that as a form of protection, staff should be allowed to carry firearms in school. After those comments, parents said that the social media posts began to circulate almost immediately.
Gerhart faced escalating pressure and anger from the community. On Friday he abruptly resigned.
“This is a district with 52 percent kids of color and you make decisions for them and this is the way you feel about them?” said Alfreda Daniels, a student’s parent. “That was the part that really had me going.”
In one of Gerhart’s alleged posts a man appeared to be eating raw meat. The headline to the post read, “Minnesota Muslim Eating Bloody Meat Introduces Horrified Citizens to His Latest Game.”
Jaylani Hussein with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said he applauds Gerhart’s decision to step down.
“He failed the students,” Hussein said. “He failed the community, but we are very glad and thankful to him to recognize that at this moment he had to leave.”
Parents hope that Gerhart stepping down will lead to change.
“I feel that there’s still a lot of work to be done, and November is around the corner so that means we need to have some progressive candidates running for the school board positions,” Daniels said.
Osseo Area Schools is the fifth largest school district in the state. It represents eight cities including Brooklyn Center and Maple Grove.
According to a report published by the StarTribune, Gerhart stated that he isn’t racist. Fox 9 tried reaching out to him, but didn’t receive a response.