An Ohio school board member has come under fire for giving a “despicable” Nazi salute during a meeting after she took issue with the group’s president.
Tipp City school board president, Simon Patry, was discussing transparency around ongoing community projects when board member Anne Zakkour tried to cut in.
“I’m talking, do not interrupt me, do not make any noises or else I will—I will not tolerate it,” an annoyed Mr Patry replied.
In response, Ms Zakkour said, “Oh,” and lifted her arm toward the board president, giving him a Nazi salute while saying, “Sieg Heil.”
The board member defended her gesture to Dayton 24/7 in a statement: “Mr Patry has been acting like a dictator on our board for years and last night I had enough of his demands of total obedience.”
She continued, “My reaction last night was symbolic and a sarcastic gesture of submission to a board officer acting as a dictator. Enough is enough.”
At the end of the same meeting, Mr Patry offered his resignation, which went into effect as of midnight on 6 September.
“I don’t know why anybody would use that, that despicable phrase and gesture,” Mr Patry told DailyMail.com.
“When I walked into the doors was the time I felt that it was highly likely that I would do it today or yesterday,” he added, referring to his resignation.
He also told the Dayton Daily News that Ms Zakkour’s “accusations are lies.”
“All you need to do to see that these are lies is to observe all of our meetings, which are recorded and public record.” Mr Patry added.
“Mrs Zakkour is clearly doing everything she can to distract from her horrible conduct, which is inexcusable. Her conduct does not reflect the values of our wonderful School District, its staff, students, parents, and our community.” He then suggested she resign.
Some board members told the outlet that they condemned the gesture while others sympathised with Ms Zakkour.
“We lost a very good board member last night because of his moving out of our school,” Richard Mains said, calling the Mr Patry a “really good person” who “did a lot for our schools.”
Theresa Dunaway sided with Ms Zakkour. ”This is abusive behaviour,” she said. “Why did the Superintendent and two other board members sit there silently while he berated her? Nobody should be treated like this, his body language was horrible, his head in his hands, the loud sighing.”
She continued, “This had been ongoing for four years and she’s had enough, who could blame her?”
Amber Drum, who took over Mr Patry’s position as the board president, told the Dayton Daily News that she hadn’t been aware of Ms Zakkour’s gesture until she watched the recording of the meeting: “Her actions were of her own accord and in no way reflect my beliefs as a board member. I am shocked by her lack of professionalism.”
Speaking to the outlet, Cathy Gardner of the Dayton Jewish Community Relations Council also called Ms Zakkour’s gesture “shocking and disturbing.”
“While I do not believe this woman had antisemitic intent, her actions highlight the need for education and a deeper understanding for all. This incident is a reminder of how damaging words and actions can be,” she said, adding, “Flippant, casual references to Hitler, the Nazi regime, or the Holocaust grossly diminish the tragedy that still affects so many.”