As Mahopac, New York, school board president Raymond Cote casually conversed behind the dais last month, he offered an observation about a mother of six and PTA member who frequently volunteers for district events.
“This one here, chubby wubby, she gets fatter and fatter every meeting,” Cote said.
The problem for Cote, an attorney elected to the board three years ago? An open microphone that live-streamed his comment to the district’s website, according to WCBS-TV.
Following a storm of outrage, including parents filing formal complaints to the state eduction department, Cote’s resignation was read at Tuesday night’s meeting — and met with applause from the gathered crowd, USA Today reported.
Many parents knew about Cote’s exit earlier in the day. One of them, former PTA member Bernadette Klein, had been campaigning to kick Cote off the board and told other parents before the meeting that “my work here is done,” according to USA Today.
“We were trying to expose him,” Klein added.
Klein claimed that Cote and other board members frequently make disparaging remarks to parents at meetings, give them dirty looks, and roll their eyes. Cote’s April 8 comment was just the first time he was caught in the act, she said.
“He did it to himself,” Klein told USA Today. “I’m hoping this will be a lesson for the rest of the board.”
Cote’s photo and bio remained on the district website as of Wednesday morning.
Intensifying the anger is the fact that Cote is a member of the PRIDE initiative to promote diversity and sensitivity, USA Today noted, which was created after Mahopac High School athletes were suspended in March over racist tweets. The incident prompted swift action by the school board, WABC-TV reported.
While the name of the woman to whom Cote referred in the meeting hasn’t been made public, Roger Garcia — who has two children in Mahopac schools — said he knows her. “It’s just sad,” he told WABC.
Deena Bell said she was at the April meeting and knows the woman as well.
“It could’ve been about me and I’m disgusted,” Bell told WABC. “We’ve had issues in the past.”
While Cote’s apology read at Tuesday’s meeting noted his “words were inappropriate and do not reflect my feelings or attitudes,” Bell characterized Cote’s statement as “a very cold-hearted apology,” she told WABC.
The following report aired just before Cote’s resignation went public:
(H/T: New York Daily News)