Gwinnett school board member overheard saying ‘I could strangle him’ about her colleague

A comment made by a Gwinnett County school board member sparked online controversy overnight following a meeting to discuss the upcoming school year.

Channel 2′s Tony Thomas watched and listened to the board meeting Thursday night.

At the end of the meeting, board member Louise Radloff could be heard on the stream saying what sounded like “I could strangle him” in reference to fellow board member Everton Blair Jr.

Radloff’s comment had many people on social media upset about it Thursday night.

Channel 2′s Nicole Carr spoke with Radloff over the phone Friday morning. The school board member, who is in her final year, said it had nothing to do with racism.

“Well that was just an off-the-cuff comment that I wanted open communication prior to going into the meeting so that I know where every board member is and, so that we can make a sound decision based on how every board member feels about any given issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with racism. Mr. Blair is a bright talented man who will go far”

Blair released a statement Friday morning.

The school board decided Thursday night to keep plans in place to return to in-person classes on Aug. 12 with an option for digital learning.

The majority of the board showed support for the plan with the exception of Blair.

“I just want us to focus on the actual plan and what we’re doing right now. I would hate for this moment to be wrapped up in vitriolic speech when we can address that, but right now I think its pressing for us to focus on the needs of our community,” Blair told Carr.

Blair argued in support of virtual learning and cited the county as having the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Gwinnett County Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks released a statement Friday afternoon, saying:

“In conducting Board business, School Board members do not always agree on the issues before them. However, there are appropriate ways to express that disagreement. At the end of last night’s meeting, which was one of the toughest in my tenure as superintendent, a Board member made a comment expressing her frustration with another Board member. It was a regrettable statement that caused pain and anger for many in our community. That is unacceptable and cannot be condoned. The comment, while inappropriate, does not reflect the heart of the Louise Radloff I have known for almost 40 years. Her actions over several decades are a more accurate reflection of who she is. She is a good person and a public servant who has dedicated her life to serving others, and has supported the most diverse clusters in our district during her 48 years on the Board. I regret that this occurred and will be working with the Board to address this type of behavior.”