‘It was barbaric:’ Cobb County School Board meeting gets physical outside, emotional inside

The meeting got physical once signups for public comment began.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 11:51 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 3:22 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A Cobb County School Board meeting was standing room only Thursday, as supporters and opponents of Cobb County Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale pleaded for change or staying the course.

But much of the unrest at the meeting was stirred up because of what happened before the meeting.

Protesters gathered outside the building early in the afternoon, calling for Ragsdale’s ouster. Many of the protesters stuck around to sign to speak at the public comment portion of the Board meeting.

But when it came time to sign up, numerous witnesses said the Board suddenly moved the sign-up sheet to where pro-Ragsdale supporters had gathered outside, causing a scramble to sign up for a limited number of speaking spots to turn physical.

“It became this kind of battle with so many people fighting and pushing each other,” One woman said. “I began crying because I got stuck down like this, and Cobb School District Police started telling me, ‘Stand up! Stand up!’ and I literally couldn’t because I was stuck between people.”

Witnesses say adults were shoving children to the ground to get to the sign-up sheet, and one woman showed Atlanta News First her bruised right arm, which she said was from struggling to get to the sign-up sheet.

“To treat one another like this is beyond ridiculous. It was almost barbaric,” said Jeff Hubbard, the President of the Cobb County Association of Educators. “The pushing and shoving, the kids crying, people cussing at each other. We’re better than that in Cobb County.”

Once the meeting began, hundreds of people gathered inside to cheer, speak, and protest.

Nearly every speaker railed against the removal of certain books from school libraries, such as “Flamer” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”. They accused Ragsdale of trying to silence trans voices.

“Don’t ban what we like; ban the bigotry that takes them,” one high school student said.

Ragsdale pushed back against the notion that Cobb County is banning books or going rogue, instead saying only books with vulgar and lewd content will be removed. He said this was not a battle between left and right but a battle of good vs. evil.

Many of those people were at the meeting later Thursday night, turning their backs when Ragsdale gave his statement.

The School District released the following statement: