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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Feb. 24, 2024

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Camas principal apologizes for ‘visceral’ post about Bryant

By , Columbian Education Reporter

A Camas principal is under fire after comments she made on her personal Facebook page about the death of basketball star Kobe Bryant.

The former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard was among nine people, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles. That same day, Camas High School Principal Liza Sejkora wrote, “Not gonna lie, seems to me that karma caught up with a rapist today.”

The Camas School District superintendent said in a statement Tuesday that Sejkora had been put on leave “in light of threats to … Sejkora and concern from our community.”

Bryant was arrested and accused of rape in 2003. He denied the allegations, and the charges were dropped after the accuser decided she would not testify. In 2005, he settled a civil lawsuit with the woman who made the accusation for an undisclosed amount.

Sejkora, who has worked at Camas High School since 2017, later deleted the post. In a follow-up, she wrote that people missed the intent of the original comment.

“You are free to judge me for the post just as I am free to judge the person the post was about,” she wrote.

In an email to Camas High School families sent Monday, Sejkora described the response as a “personal, visceral reaction” that was “inappropriate and tasteless.”

“In education, we remind students to think before they post online, especially when feelings are inflamed,” she wrote. “We also teach our students about context. My emotions and past experiences got the best of me in that moment.”

Superintendent Jeff Snell wrote in a statement that the district appreciated Sejkora’s response, and that they will work to “support her in rebuilding trust with the community she serves.”

“As school district staff, we strive to model a high standard for students,” Snell wrote. “This situation did not meet that standard.”

District spokeswoman Doreen McKercher said the district is investigating following district policy and looking to move forward in a positive way.

The U.S. Supreme Court has generally upheld the First Amendment right of school faculty to express their opinions privately. Still, that does not leave all faculty free from scrutiny. An adjunct professor and administrator at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., was fired last month after comments he made following President Donald Trump’s threat to target 52 Iranian cultural sites in the midst of ongoing tensions in the Middle East. The Washington Post reported that Asheen Phansey wrote in a Facebook post that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “should tweet a list of 52 sites of cultural American heritage that he would bomb.”

“Um … Mall of America? … Kardashian residence?” Phansey tweeted.

Bryant left a complicated legacy, particularly to survivors of sexual assault. Many took to social media following his death to say they felt mainstream remembrances of Bryant’s legacy detailed his accomplishments on the court, but ignored the sexual assault allegations against him.

Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman working at a hotel in Edwards, Colo., in 2003. Prosecutors dropped the case in 2004 after the accuser decided she would not testify. Bryant later said he viewed the encounter as “consensual,” but recognized that “she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” according to reporting from the Los Angeles Times.

Columbian Education Reporter