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Board of Education Member Accused of Cyberbullying

Democrats say that a Republican member of the Board of Education has been cyberbullying one of their members.

Democratic members of the school board are accusing a Republican colleague of bullying one of their own.

Monday night, the members asked , a Republican, to resign because of messages Kidd sent on Facebook to Kelly Luxenberg, a Democrat; the members and Luxenberg said the posts are threatening and harassing. Kidd left the meeting afterwards without responding to an ultimatum to step aside. 

After consulting her personal attorney and the school board counsel, Luxenberg has shared the messages with the Manchester Police Department.

"The environment that we strive to create in our schools is conducive to learning and we endeavor to have that same environment on our board for conducting the public’s business," Democratic members of the Manchester Board of Education wrote in a statement that they provided to Patch after Monday's meeting. "We have the expectation to communicate with each other and the community we serve in a respectful and professional manner." 

Kidd, who is serving her first term on the school board, declined to comment when reached late Monday, referring questions to Manchester Republican Town Committee Chairman Matt Galligan instead. 

Galligan described Kidd as "passionate about education and the future of the children of Manchester" and that the Democratic members of the board, particularly Kelly Luxenberg, had "misconstrued intense political debate." 

"She chose to take an instance of obvious political disagreement and turn it into a police matter when there was never any threat of physical harm," Galligan said. 

Luxenberg, who is married to State Rep. Geoff Luxenberg, a Democratic who represents Manchester, said she and Kidd occasionally exchanged emails, text messages and Facebook messages during Kidd's first several months on the Board of Education, but that she was "unnerved" by the sudden hostile tone Kidd began to take in her Facebook messages to her about a week ago. 

One series of messages from Kidd, which Kelly Luxenberg made available to Patch, begin at 2:38 a.m. with a post from Kidd stating, "Don't you ever patronize me by telling me I did a great job. GOT IT." 

Kidd continues that she will "bulldoze you. Promise." and that Kelly Luxenberg is "looking outr [sic] for your husband and our backed by dem news papers." 

The messages from Kidd, sent privately to Kelly Luxenberg's Facebook account, continue for several minutes. They include Kidd urging Luxenberg to "bring iton [sic]," telling her to "read this to the public" and that Kidd has "no trust any more" in the town's political process. 

One message, time stamped at 2:52 a.m., reads: "I will look you in the face. I HATE OBAMA. I also hate Bush. Don't you ever shut me off again with you political [expletive deleted] again. Next time it will not be pretty. Here here I am no shinking violet." 

Kelly Luxenberg said she awoke to find the messages waiting for her on her Facebook account the next morning. 

"I would say I was unnerved by it," Kelly Luxenberg said. "The board prides itself on being collegial." 

Kelly Luxenberg said she discussed the matter with other members of the Board of Education, who also expressed that they had observed or experienced "inappropriate verbal, email and text message communications" from Kidd. 

"We spend a lot of time as a board talking about and trying to set policies that guard against bullying," said Neal Leon, a Democratic member of the school board. "It's no good. We can't have it. But it has to apply to us on the board as well." 

Kelly Luxenberg said she consulted with several attorneys after receiving Kidd's messages, including the Board of Education's counsel, who advised her to contact the police. Kelly Luxenberg said she spoke with an officer at the Manchester Police Department about the messages, who documented the incident and told her that Kidd would be contacted and warned to have no further contact with Luxenberg outside of Board of Education related events. 

Kelly Luxenberg said that Monday's meeting was the first time that she and Kidd were in the same room together since she received the messages. 

Michael Pohl, the Manchester Democratic Town Committee Chairman, said that Kidd's remarks to Luxenberg "crossed the line" and that Kelly Luxenberg's response was not politically motivated but merely steps to protect herself against messages that were clearly "threatening and harassing." 

"That is not appropriate political debate, let alone how you would want your kids to communicate with one another," Pohl said of Kidd 

When asked, Galligan said he found nothing inappropriate with Kidd's comments or the means in which she expressed them to Kelly Luxenberg. 

"Politics makes it necessary to have a thick skin," Galligan said. "The debate is always going to be full-throated, it's always going to be contentious." 

Democrats gave Kidd an opportunity to resign from her seat on the school board Monday night, but she left the meeting afterwards without responding to their request. Manchester's Town Charter does not contain any criteria for removing elected officials for improper conduct such as inappropriate behavior or criminal offense so although Democrats control a 6-3 majority on the school board they said there was nothing they could do to remove Kidd unless she chose to step aside. 

Galligan said that Kidd "will not be resigning from the Board of Education" and that Democrats have gone out of their way since last November's election campaign to "besmirch" her. 

Kelly Luxenberg said that Galligan and Kidd are hoping to turn the matter into a political football when it is clearly a case of cyberbullying. 

"It was definitely unnerving and definitely an experience that I have never fell victim to before in terms of bullying," Luxenberg said. "In this day and age you can never be too sure. There's nothing political about this." 

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Kevin John February 15, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-183. Harassment in the second degree: Class C misdemeanor. (1995) (a) A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when: (1) By telephone, he addresses another in or uses indecent or obscene language; or (2) with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he communicates with a person by telegraph or mail, by electronically transmitting a facsimile through connection with a telephone network, by computer network, as defined in section 53a-250, or by any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or (3) with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm. (b) For purposes of this section such offense may be deemed to have been committed either at the place where the telephone call was made, or at the place where it was received. (c) The court may order any person convicted under this section to be examined by one or more psychiatrists. (d) Harassment in the second degree is a class C misdemeanor. Sorry to beat the dead horse, but even if it Ms Kidd is exempt from the CT cyber bullying laws, she is not exempt from CT Harassment Statues. Her messages fit the statue descriptions so the police were rightfully involved. Ms Kidd it's time to go.
Frank February 15, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Looks like you summed it up perfectly Kevin. I'm guessing Mr Galligan will soon grow tired of defending his indefensible position and Ms Kidd will be persuaded by her own party to move aside. Greg, everybody knows the district is low performing when compared with many other districts in the state, that isn't good but it certainly isn't "news", which is why it hasn't received many comments. Side-note, how does one harass another using a telegraph? Swearing singing telegram?
Joe Young February 15, 2012 at 06:18 AM
For someone who claims to be a free market principled tea party conservative, it isn't following the constitution, resorting to this rather than politely disagreeing with someone like the constitution says. That's what really gets me.
bob s February 15, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I don't like politics...especially small town politics...it is a reason we have wars and fight over who gets jobs...and in some countries...who gets to live and die...but it is the only system we have and at the least it should be civil. If you have to reach for comments like......"get a thicker skin"...at least admit this is a good one...and it would have been alot better if everyone involved had just gone home and taken a Tylenol PM and had a good nights rest. ...any one who lacks the maturity to sit... listen... consider objectively other members positions...and then in a calm manner...state their opinion and work in a bipartisan manner to achieve goals...should have the dignity to resign. Bullying is a crime....acting out is a phrase I thought we only heard in grammer school...I guess that is not accurate. That all being said...I always sit and listen for a while...the highs and lows of any argument are always a little exagerrated...this will mellow even if nothing happens. Neither MS. Luxemberg nor Ms. Kidd are as extreme as some would suggest...but what happened here certainly has to make you wonder about the maturity of the people we are electing...and if you look at the printed facts...I certainly have to wonder if Ms. Kidd has the maturity to continue on the BOE. The City of Village Charm took a hit with this...maybe we need a hall monitor for the meetings.
bob s February 15, 2012 at 05:10 PM
To Mr. Galligan...we've met and I thnk you are a decent guy...but if you intend to participate in politics...one thing I am looking for in a candidate...and this may be hard to find... is someone who will just admit when someone screws up... If Bill and Hillary C or George Bush had only said once... just once... "Folks...You know what? I really, really screwed up on this one...I am sorry and will work to make things right"...I would be fans for life...they couldn't do it. Beware the Medusa of Political life...it sucks you in... You have enough of a fire with Ms Kidd on this one...to defend what she did as "misconstrued intense ploitical debate"...now leaves us with two people to worry about.
Dave Morin February 15, 2012 at 08:43 PM
My god, mail bombing someone with bitter messages at 3am. All I can say is.... Put the bottle of booze down, and step AWAY from the computer.
Dave Morin February 15, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Hmm, it was between 2:30-3:00 in the morning....call me crazy, but my guess is that Ms Luxenberg was probably asleep.
Manchester Mom February 16, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I would not have felt comfortable going to Ms. Kidd to "confront her" -- I would have felt immediately threatened by someone who seems to need help in many areas, and I would be afraid of that confrontation. Ms. Luxenberg did the right thing -- consulted authorities and lawyers, and followed their direction to inform the police, and then follow their instruction. Ms. Kidd seems "off" and I sincerely hope she gets help. To admit that she said things she shouldn't have said, but then say that she doesn't feel she owes an apology is just immature and shows a severe lack of judgment and possible impairment.
Manchester Mom February 16, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Agreed, Greg -- however, having the RIGHT board of ed members (and by right, I mean that they can be mature, qualified individuals who are able to model excellent (not good, not great...but EXCELLENT) behavior to our students IS improving the schools. I think it is appropriate for the public to address this as a necessary step towards getting these schools on the right track.
Manchester Mom February 16, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Mr. Galligan -- if this is how you perceive the world -- us or them, the only way to accomplish something is to fight, then you are part of the problem, not the solution, to our town's needs. To quote you: "Politics makes it necessary to have a thick skin. The debate is always going to be full-throated, it's always going to be contentious." WHY is that, Mr. Galligan? Why does it HAVE to be that way? Obviously, that is not working for our town (or the world). Mr. Galligan, I'm looking for leaders who are mature emotionally, mentally, and in connection to others -- and understand that the best way to bridge gaps and solve problems is with respect for one another's viewpoints and experiences. I love this town and the people in it. I feel sorry for our children that they are not being taught these essential life-skills, which are becoming even more essential as the world around us changes and becomes smaller. How can we expect the schools to teach this, if their BOE cannot even exhibit this? Children learn by example and model, Mr. Galligan. No amount of spending or cutting spending, or ousting staff or hiring new staff, will do the trick here, if the fundamental VALUES are not EXPECTED from our leadership board, and people are held accountable (my gosh, Ms. Kidd should at the VERY least sincerely apologize for scaring Mrs. Luxenberg, whether or not she herself (or you) would be scared -- respect Mrs. Luxenberg's feelings and life as a fellow human being.
Manchester Mom February 16, 2012 at 09:59 PM
The cyberbullying laws only apply to students -- are you kidding???? Please do some research before you state ridiculous claims. And you might want to look up the definition of "defamation" here before you say things -- this is clearly NOT defamation.
Concerned Citizen February 17, 2012 at 03:15 PM
What is childish is the way Ms.Kidd handled herself in a time if political disagreement. Going to the police and press was the right thing to do. We are citizens of this town who have elected officials who we think are deemed competent to act professionally and not take the "do as I say, not as I do approach." We deserve to know what goes on behind closed doors. And Mr. Moran does spend time focusing on the positive happenings in the town. Would you like him to ignore the situation as well?
Concerned Citizen February 17, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Mr. Galligan...It is unbelievable that you would say that this situation is politically motivated. This situation was not blown out of proportion. I am disappointed in your judgement and defensiveness of this case. Having an undercover police officer was not foolish..what was foolish was the way Ms. Kidd handled herself. This town deserves much more than what Ms. Kidd has to offer. She is an elected official who has displayed improper conduct. It is unfortunate that we don't have a policy that would force her out. Maybe it is time to create a referendum question to change the charter. I will be the first to vote "yes" to force a member out who isn't upholding the standards they were elected to uphold. I believe many citizens are not in agreement with your thoughts and responses to this situation.
David Carlson February 18, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Here's my life lesson that I learned and how that experience is helping me to judge this situation. I was bullied as a child and I reacted to the taunts as the bullies probably wanted me to, it was only when I developed a thick skin that I refused to let the taunting bother me. Growing a thicker skin towards bullies actually made me a stronger person emotionally, more self reliant and a lot more courageous to come out of my shell. Developing a thick skin allowed me the ability to push back and give the bullies a little bit of their own medicine (I'm not talking physical stuff, anyone with kids knows that most bullying isn't solely about getting roughed up, but it's the emotional/mental abuse component)..And you know what I discovered? Bullies are cowards, thin skinned and tattle tales. When I pushed back, the bullies went running to the teacher to tell on me that I was being a bully. Can you believe that? But that's what bullies do. Once they are confronted with the fact that their bullying was no longer going to work and they then end up being "bullied", their only recourse is to try and get someone bigger to stand up for them. That was probably the case here. I suggest that both women were engaged in some level of bullying, the original person being bullied chose to finally stand up and push back. The other one, the one doing the bullying all along, got a figurative smack down and went crying to a higher auithority. Because thats what bullies do.
Manchester Citizen February 18, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Manchester Mom, You are wrong on both counts. I provided the citation for the CT statutes that discuss bullying below. I dare you to find the word "bully" applied to persons other than students in the Connecticut General Statutes. Also, I referenced two common definitions of defamation for you, and I also provided a link to Harvard Law School for your erudition. To make a claim that Merrill Kidd broke a law, which is impossible because it doesn't apply to her, is defamation: "Some statements such as an accusation of having committed a crime... are called libel per se or slander per se and can more easily lead to large money awards in court and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed." In case you don't know, libel and slander fall under the term "defamation." Bullying: http://cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap170.htm#Sec10-222d.htm Defamation: http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/hrj/iss13/docherty.shtml http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=458
Manchester Citizen February 18, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Manchester Citizen is not Mr. Galligan. She is much more accomplished.
Manchester Citizen February 18, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Manchester Citizen 6:50 pm on Saturday, February 18, 2012 The "cyberbullying" bill that our fearless governor signed last summer just replaces a section of the statute below replaces 10-222d of the law linked above, and yes, it only applies to students. Here's the bill: http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=458
Manchester Citizen February 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Yet the term cyberbullying was used, and not harassment. Cyberbullying is a charged word- it conjures the story of poor Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, MA. I don't think her posts are comparable to what happened to that poor child. Thanks for the update on harassment laws though, because anytime I am annoyed with a facebook post, I'll be sure to file a harassment claim with my local police department.
Richard Lourie Jr February 19, 2012 at 03:12 AM
I did not know at the time of this incident that we had achieved the prominience of being one the school districts that would be looked at by the state for poor performance, to the board members great job. Take a bow, all of you. Manchester PD thanks, if the criminals don't keep you working late the board of education will.
Richard Lourie Jr February 19, 2012 at 03:20 AM
CC you are right about many citizens not in agreement, but we really need to be concerned that we made the list of 30 worst schools and let the BOE keep driving the bus.
Manchester Citizen February 19, 2012 at 06:20 AM
On a lighter note, the Board of Education has issued iPads to themselves to conduct business. Oh the irony. Definitely a good use of money. http://boe.townofmanchester.org/Policies/9000/9000.pdf
Freckles February 19, 2012 at 06:37 AM
Wow. Most of you need to get a grip. First off, the most disturbing thing about this is the improper usage of "your" by Kidd in the Facebook message. To the point of the story, what the hell is wrong with everybody? Was Kell bell threatened? I guess if you think "getting bulldozed" by a (likely) middle aged woman is threatening, then I don't know what to say. Being "unnerved" by what is almost clearly a drunk Facebook message is pretty special. It makes me wonder what an awesome, sheltered, pretentious, pretty little life. You know what's unnerving? The fact that Sallie Mae gets away with f'ing young students in the a, essentially taking advantage of them, with a million different clauses and rates to completely suck the money out of aforementioned students once they finally do graduate. Getting fired from a job in this crappy economic environment would also qualify as "unnerving." But hey, poor Kelly received a drunken Facebook message. It's cyberbullying, you guys! I got a message that said LMAO! :( We should really just pass a law that makes it illegal to be mean to anybody. That would be just great. This is a really dumb story, and yes, people need thicker skin and to get a grip. -Meg.
Kevin John February 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Manchester Citizen- It wasn't just any citizen and that the point. Ms. Kidd is an elected official. She's in the lime light due to that and her behavior, not just because she sent wacky messages. Also it would be perfectly in your right to report any and all harassment that you receive from anyone via Facebook or any other social media to the Police. So I hope you do report, it might save you or someone else from harm.
Reader February 27, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Ms. Kidd's behavior is simply unacceptable. Period. Were at teacher in town to do the same, he / she would be let go - or at the very least given disciplinary measures. This behavior is totally unprofessional and an embarassment to the town and educators.
merrill kidd March 02, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I am truely sorry for my personal comments that I made to Mrs. Luxenburg
merrill kidd March 02, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I bow my head.
merrill kidd March 02, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Please...lets get back to business. I did not get to my position for being a shrinking violet. I care about all the kids.
merrill kidd March 02, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Have a great day/ night. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to cal me 860-432-055 I am for all of your kids and my own. :-)
merrill kidd March 02, 2012 at 03:00 AM
oops, sticky kids fingers on # 9...My home phone is 860-432-0955
Manchester Mom March 02, 2012 at 04:37 AM
t-r-u-l-y

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