Board of Education’s Presberg mocks dozens of citizen speakers live on Facebook

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Board of Education member Leonard Presberg on his Facebook page with a follower's review of his "play by play" of 5 dozen citizen speakers addressing him and 4 other board members.
Board of Education member Leonard Presberg on his Facebook page with a follower’s review of his “play by play” of 5 dozen citizen speakers addressing him and 4 other board members.

The August 23, 2021 Board of Education meeting will certainly live in infamy.

Board Member Leonard Presberg conducted a live mockery of his constituents on Facebook while they were speaking at the podium in the BOE meeting. While I have seen cases in the past of two elected officials texting one another during a meeting while someone was speaking (all publicly rebuffed once exposed), Presberg’s continuous bout of sarcasm is the worst I have witnessed.

As the only elected official in Fayette who had no time limits on public speech and full public comment on every agenda item on two different elected bodies, I am a staunch free speech advocate. Likewise, I support Presberg’s ability to speak freely on any subject he chooses.

The outrage I share with many other constituent taxpayers is Presberg’s total lack of decorum expected of someone in his position. His deliberate attempts at crafting real-time sarcastic remarks about constituents speaking before him in the precious couple of minutes they are allotted is behavior unbecoming of someone allowed to hold an elected post.

I suppose we can assume anytime a constituent taxpayer speaks before the BOE, we can count on Presberg to be simultaneously typing some sort of sarcastic critique of the speaker’s presentation. This is the new bottom rung standard of performance at the BOE.

Offering a civil rebuttal to a position during a meeting is totally acceptable. Presberg chose to go in another direction.

Anyone who has known Leonard Presberg for any length of time is aware of his position on religion, specifically Christianity, as an abomination. No one can rip up a religious theme faster and more efficiently than Presberg. He may have highlighted the free speech portion of his pocket US Constitution and marked out the freedom of religion part. Many of his live Facebook comments poked at the statements of faith made by constituent taxpayers at the podium.

In all fairness, Presberg did make a bold stand for religious impartiality on Facebook previously saying, “Is it the religious beliefs of the group that are outrageous? Is it the name that is unacceptable? Our Constitution requires that I, as a School Board Member, make no decisions that would favor one religious group over another.” That comment was under his post that said, “Yes, an after-school Satan Club could be coming to your kid’s grade school.”

His live mockery of his constituents the other night had his official BOE religious prejudices in full view.

Even Atlanta Journal-Constitution education reporter Maureen Downey was in on the viewing of the Presberg show. Reading Downey’s columns for years and disagreeing with her government can solve all educational problems attitude, I was stunned when I read her jubilant approval of an elected official creating a live, running mockery of his constituents during an official meeting.

On her online AJC Get Schooled page, Downey said, “I enjoyed Fayette County school board member Leonard Presberg’s play-by-play of the speakers — and the supplicants who thought they were in a pew rather than at a podium — at tonight’s school board meeting.”

It was interesting that Downey chose the word “supplicants” to describe the constituents (also known as “taxpayers” or “voters”) as though they were compelled to kneel before the members of the BOE and humbly plead for the attention of the elected officials, hat in hand.

I cannot help but wonder if Presberg’s live Facebook remarks are designed to intimidate future opposing views. It certainly is not designed to foster unity on the BOE or in Fayette County.

For the record, Leonard Presberg is the designated Black member of the BOE. There was a lengthy and expensive lawsuit that specifically claimed that a Black county resident could not get elected to the BOE because of at-large voting. Since district voting was created, Presberg has been the official designated Black person who formerly could not get elected to the BOE, sad but true.

To the majority Black district in North Fayette County, are you kidding us? Out of your well-educated, high-income population, you cannot find a single Black candidate to replace Leonard Presberg?

I would not be surprised if Presberg’s dishonorable antics are reported to the school accreditation organization

Steve Brown

Peachtree City, Ga

[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County commission.]

16 COMMENTS

  1. First off, though a little off-topic, I am puzzled by Mr. Brown’s statements that Mr. Presberg is the “official designated Black member of the BOE” and dismay that “well-educated high-income” voters in District 5 did not “find a single Black candidate to replace” Mr. Presburg.

    I am an African-American mother who lives in PTC and have two children in elementary school here. There are also a sizable number of African-Americans outside of District 5 as well as sizable numbers of white voters and voters from other ethnic groups in District 5.

    Mr. Brown appears to have a “black and white” view of politics that does not match the reality in Fayette County or anywhere else. As Jesse Jackson, Alan Keyes, Cory Booker, Herman Cain, Kamala Harris and a whole host of other black politicians can tell you, black voters routinely choose white candidates over black ones. Factors other than race play a huge role in it, like age and income. Younger white voters lean Democratic while more affluent blacks, although they still lean Democratic, vote GOP in high enough numbers to where you can’t automatically assume their party just based on race. Given these realities, it was particularly jarring to read Mr. Brown’s race-based analysis on an issue that has very little to do with race—or maybe I’m just naive. Presberg has served on the school board because a majority of the voters there are happy with what he’s done while on the school board. It’s really just that simple.

    In any event, on the matter at hand, for me personally, partisan politics is not as relevant in local politics as it is on the national level. While I agree with Mr. Presberg’s views on the school mask mandate whole heartedly, I was disappointed in his Facebook posts. I don’t think it’s something he should resign over but in the future I’d hope he’d be a little more professional when dealing with dissenting viewpoints. Elected officials serve everyone, not just the citizens who vote for them. Also, I’m finding on the related issue of vaccines, you do have people on both sides who have valid concerns. Everyone is not going to be happy with the decisions made but we can at least treat the unhappy ones with respect.

    All in all though, I’m very happy with our school board’s handling of COVID-19. In the beginning I was nervous and wondered if the BOE was moving too fast to reopen schools. I was very appreciative that they offered a virtual option. As the school year progressed, I was impressed that the COVID numbers remained relatively low and I was able to send my kids back with more confidence that the BOE would leave aside politics and keep the schools open and safe. They have bent over backwards to try to accommodate everyone on a very polarizing issue and they deserve major kudos because that was not easy.

  2. This reminds me of a 2019 Seattle City Council meeting in which council members were texting and or on their laptops and not respecting community members expressing their views. Let’s see if this makes the larger news circuit.

    At the very least an apology is due from Pressburg. If the remaining school broad doesn’t demand an apology then they all should go.

  3. This letter and the wing comments are priceless coming from supporters of Donald Trump. I guess decent morals and civic pride are only important some of the time. Who could imagine an elected official making fun of his constituents?

    You can’t make this stuff up. Truth is stranger than fiction.

    • What is priceless is that Trump has been out of politics and – thanks to a concerted censorship campaign between big tech, mainstream corporate media, and the left – the public eye in general, but he still lives rent free inside your head.

      • Wouldn’t it be nice to excise the 45th president from the collective memory so you guys never have to take responsibility for electing this stain on humanity? Good luck with that! I’ll remind you of your error until the day I die.

    • The fallacy of your thinking is that everyone who supported Trump also enjoyed his rants and Tweets. I did not. I thought he should keep his mouth shut and lead and keep his tweets to himself. Your assumptions aren’t strange, but they are fiction.

      • Wing – I apologize. I regularly read the comments in The Citizen, and I must have overlooked the many times your reprimanded Mr. Trump for his lack of morals and civic pride. I did not recall the numerous times you called him a fool and castigated him for his lack of leadership skills and selfish motivations. I completely missed your assertions to him to keep his mouth shut and terminate mindless tweeting. It is indeed strange that I have no recollection of these.

        Thank you for setting the record straight and demonstrating your consistency.

  4. I think he represents the frustrations of a highly educated community that has to deal with misinformation when it comes to our schooling!! I don’t know a single person who thought the guy screaming “Bow to Zod” had a right mind. Let’s get with the science and leave the conspiracies behind.

  5. Someone who’s got some decent morals and a sense of civic pride, along with a little bit of decorum, needs to step up and defeat Presberg in the next election. He’s an embarrassment and a Fool. He brings no leadership skills, no contribution, and no selfless service to this board. He’s in it for one reason – himself. He’s the Hank Johnson / Cynthia McKinney of Fayetteville County. Embarrassing.

    • Frankly, his comments aren’t that incendiary. It’s the horde of like-minded individuals who continuously refuel his ego that should scare you. You can take a peek for yourself:

      facebook[dot]com/lpresberg

      The issue shouldn’t be Pressburg’s embarrassing school-yard clowning. The point of school board meetings such as this is to allow for the public to petition elected officials for redress of grievances. Pressburg did not give his full attention to the public in attendance. Instead, he dedicated a significant portion of his time to interacting with a small select audience via his Facebook page. This is antithetical to the idea of representative government as well as the right to petition under the 1st Amendment. If Pressburg does not want to act with accountability, then he should resign.

  6. So the right is trying to CANCEL Presberg for having cited word-for-word quotations of what each public speaker is said. LOL, most would see this as snowflakes being oversensitive.

    I enjoy how this letter includes no direct citation of what “mockery” Presberg alleged committed. What a good way to be both hypocritical and an insult to journalism.