KTTH OPINION

Rantz: School board director caught lying about trans bathroom incident

Nov 27, 2023, 5:55 PM

Edmonds school board...

Edmonds school board director Keith Smith (Photo courtesy of Edmonds School District)

(Photo courtesy of Edmonds School District)

A school board director at the center of a controversy for a vulgar tirade was caught lying in an apology he admitted was insincere. The alleged incident did not even happen as he reported. That didn’t stop him from repeating the story, even after he learned it wasn’t true.

Edmonds school board director Keith Smith snapped during an October 24 meeting, unloading in a vulgar tirade after hearing about an incident concerning transgender bathroom access. He was told by a parent that an adult was monitoring who was going in and out of bathrooms at Meadowdale High School’s homecoming game. The parent said the adult questioned if her child was using the bathroom that corresponded to the correct biological gender. Smith said that he heard the adult was checking people’s IDs, and it made one student, who appears to be transgender, uncomfortable.

“I apologize in advance to my board colleagues. And if you have little ears out there, please close them. Who the f*** does that person think they are?” Smith asked on October 24.

At the following school board meeting on November 14, Smith offered an apology for his “regrettable choice of language.” But in an email obtained through a public disclosure request, Smith said he was most definitely not sorry.

A rushed apology

Smith offered a rushed apology to the board and community. It sounded somewhat snarky and dismissive.

“So I just wanted to apologize to our community,” he said through a mask. “I used profane language at our previous board meeting, and that is a regrettable choice of language that I used at that particular meeting. I clearly shocked the conscious of the community and went against the community’s standards for conduct. As such, I wish to apologize for that. I’m hoping that moving forward after tonight, I’m sure there will be plenty of comments directed at me this evening, which is completely fine. I welcome those from the community and I look forward to hearing from you. Moving forward, I’m hoping that we can get back to the business of the district. There are lots of important things for us to do and I think it’s best for us to focus on those moving forward. Thank you.”

During the public comments section of the meeting, Smith was called out multiple times. One man called Smith out for lacking civility in his original comments, calling it “vulgar” and “premeditated.” Another criticized him for amplifying an unverified story to target parents he doesn’t agree with politically.

The school board director regretted his comments, though not because it “shocked the conscious of the community.” He expressed his true feelings in private emails.

Sorry, not sorry

In two separate emails to the parent who initially complained of the bathroom incident, Smith explained that his October 24 comments “could bring attention to you or your child.” He said that he “never intended to draw attention specifically to your family.” But he said he couldn’t stay silent.

“If that means that I have blowback, so be it,” Smith wrote on October 25. “If that means I face challenges and whatever else this group wants to throw at me, that’s fine. But in the future, I will do better and make sure that I leave other people’s stories for them to tell.”

It’s unclear what he meant in this email since Smith never mentioned the family by name. He didn’t even reveal to the school that the incident allegedly occurred. In a follow-up email, he alerted the parent that he was “being pressured to give a public apology for using a swear word during my comments.”

“I want to let both you and your daughter know that I’m not sorry for anything that I said and I find it incredibly outrageous that the members of the public who can’t stand to hear the word ‘f***’ are totally ok with veiled hate speech every week. I have received way more emails on that than anything else in my two years,” he said.

Though he did go on to offer an insincere apology, he left something out: he got the details of the alleged bathroom incident wrong. It turned out that the adult monitoring the bathrooms was not some random community member. And there’s no indication IDs were ever checked.

(Email obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

Smith took some liberties in retelling the story

After the parent leveled a complaint, and Smith exposed the alleged incident, Superintendent Rebecca Miner began an investigation. On October 25, one day after Smith’s comments, Miner informed the school board of what occurred.

Miner said it was a staff member who was posted at the bathroom. And that’s become a standard protocol during crowded school events.

“Due to the numerous fights and prolific drug use in the stadium bathrooms at the beginning of the season, we did make the decision to limit the total number of students in the restroom at one time,” Miner explained in the email. The staff member was there to ensure policy compliance. Miner did not confirm that the staff member hassled a transgender student, but cited the parent’s complaint as factual.

In a separate email, the parent who initially contacted Smith to thank him for his support. But she also noted that she learned “that it was actually someone connected to the district that was being hateful,” not a community member.

In an email to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH on November 1, Smith made no mention of the staff member responsible, even though he discovered this information days earlier. Instead, he said that he “was informed that someone was checking IDs at an event before students went into the restroom and at least one student was fearful.”

The claim about checking IDs is not mentioned in a redacted email provided via a public disclosure request. In a follow-up email for this story, Smith did not explain where that claim originated. The parent’s complaint says her child was asked if she is female.

Playing hero

Smith’s email to the parent indicates an eagerness to play hero on LGBT issues that arise within the district.

He says he wants to be a fighter for those impacted teens. It appears he used this alleged incident to insert himself into the story as the protagonist, feigning martyrdom to the parent, and then staying quiet when the truth was revealed. He may be well intentioned, but I suspect his narcissism got in the way.

The school board director did not return any requests for comment on this latest development.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3 – 7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Rantz: School board director caught lying about trans bathroom incident