Originally published Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 09:46p.m.

The fallout of State Rep. David Stringer’s racially offensive remarks continued on Tuesday night.

Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard publicly backed the City Council’s decision to ask the recently re-elected lawmaker to resign.

After a short formal statement during the Tuesday night Governing Board meeting, Howard said the entire episode has left him “saddened, but not at all surprised.” In prior private conversations, Howard said, Stringer has demonstrated an intolerance that he suspected would eventually become public.

Howard was clear he finds Stringer’s remarks counterproductive to the school district’s values.

“We celebrate diversity and individuality,” Howard said.

The beauty of local district public schools is that every child is welcome and embraced regardless of their skin color, their nationality of origin, their religion or socio-economic background, Howard said. Children are enriched when they are taught to appreciate and value different cultures, philosophies and abilities, he said.

“That to me is what public district schools have that not all schools have,” Howard said.

Stringer is an avowed supporter of charter schools as a keystone of school choice. He voted to endorse the expansion of school vouchers.

A call to Stringer was not returned.

PUSD leaders have bristled at his comments that suggest district schools are not as academically challenging because they have such a wide mix of students, including those for whom English is not their native language.

During the superintendent’s report portion of the Governing Board meeting Tuesday night, Howard read aloud a short statement. There was no board comment.

Prescott City Mayor and board member Greg Mengarelli listened, and nodded; a few hours earlier as mayor he voted with five fellow members of the City Council to ask Stringer to resign. Mengarelli stated prior to that meeting he found Stringer’s remarks out-of-step with his personal values, and those of the Prescott community.

Mengarelli and Stringer both ran for the same school board seat four years ago.

“I want to personally applaud the vote of our Prescott City Council today calling for the resignation of David Stringer,” Howard stated. “His consistent comments and views represent the opposite of what we believe in PUSD when we say from our heart, EVERY child, every day.”

After the meeting, Howard said he believes Stringer needs to be held accountable for his words.

“I don’t think he should have ever been voted in,” Howard concluded.

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.

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