Anne Zakkour, Tipp City Exempted Village Schools board member, said her use of a Nazi salute and Sieg Heil in addressing board President Simon Patry was “a sarcastic gesture of submission to a board officer acting like a dictator.”
Zakkour made the gesture and comment during a heated verbal exchange with Patry, who was seated next to her, during a board of education work session Tuesday evening. The two have engaged in previous heated exchanges often over rules of procedure.
Her response Tuesday, she said, was a culmination of Patry acting “like a dictator,” allegedly bullying her and other board members and holding his head in his hands while some board members spoke and sighing during their comments.
“I think it was reflective of four years of his dictatorial behavior. When you know anything about Sieg Heil, you know when it is done by a civilian it is meant to be a sign of total obedience to a dictator, which at that time happened to be Hitler. That is what I think he is. When he wants it, he wants total obedience as a dictator,” Zakkour said.
Patry said Wednesday that the allegations of bullying and acting like a dictator were not true. He called for her resignation.
“Mrs. Zakkour’s accusations are lies. All you need to do to see that these are lies is to observe all of our meetings, which are recorded and public record,” Patry said in a written statement. “Mrs. Zakkour is clearly doing everything she can to distract from her horrible conduct, which is inexcusable. Her conduct does not reflect the values of our wonderful School District, its staff, students, parents, and our community. Rather than double down on lies, she should resign.”
Zakkour’s gesture and comment came after Patry told her not to speak while he was commenting on her remarks about a facilities plan before the board.
“I’m talking, do not interrupt me, do not make any noises or else I will … I will not tolerate it,” Patry said. She felt threatened by the remarks, Zakkour said.
Patry resigned from his board position at the end of the Tuesday meeting. He said the resignation was due to business and family obligations. His term was set to expire at year’s end. Zakkour will leave the board at year’s end after not filing to run for re-election.
Other board members were hearing Wednesday from citizens who are “extremely upset with this situation,” said board member Rick Mains.
“I would simply state that her actions are completely those of Mrs. Zakkour and in no way reflect the opinions of the other board members who attended this meeting,” Mains said.
He told those seeking more comment from him that he wants to concentrate on unifying the community and building support for students and teachers and support for a district building project, Mains said.
Cathy Gardner of the Dayton Jewish Community Relations Council called the gesture by Zakkour “shocking and disturbing.”
“While I do not believe this woman had antisemitic intent, her actions highlight the need for education and a deeper understanding for all. This incident is a reminder of how damaging words and actions can be. The Holocaust took the lives of over 12 million people, over half of whom were Jewish. All were persecuted and murdered for being “other” or “different.” Flippant, casual references to Hitler, the Nazi regime, or the Holocaust grossly diminish the tragedy that still affects so many,” a statement from Gardner said.
“I ask for people to continue to be aware of these issues, be sympathetic to those who are hurt by these actions and stand up when you see things like this happen in our community.”
New board President Amber Drum said she was unaware of the “salute” being made until she watched the board meeting.
“Her actions were of her own accord and in no way reflect my beliefs as a board member. I am shocked by her lack of professionalism,” Drum said.
She has found Patry to be a respectful board member, Drum added.
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