SOUTHINGTON — A school board Republican publicly apologized for using the term “buffoon’ to describe two Democratic state representatives during a social media exchange.
Board member Joe Baczewski made the remark in response to a Facebook post by State Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, and also directed the remark at House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin. Linehan and Aresimowicz both represent districts that include parts of Southington.
After Linehan posted a talking tips sheet on school shootings, Baczewski, expressed frustration with her and Aresimowicz, writing he didn’t “know who the bigger buffoon is.”
Baczewski blamed the pair for reduced municipal aid and disagreed that more legislation restricting gun rights was necessary. Linehan’s post didn’t advocate for stricter gun laws.
“Teach kids about firearms and proper respect for them,” he wrote. “A lot of more meaningful things you can put energy into. Between you and Aresimowicz, I don’t know who the bigger buffoon is.”
During Thursday’s Board of Education meeting Melissa Combs, a woman who took part in the ensuing discussion on the Southington Talks Facebook forum, criticized Baczewski’s remarks.
“As for the name calling, that’s bullying,” she said. “That a Board of Education member engaged in that really disappointed me.”
Baczewski responded that he shouldn’t have used “a name” in response to Linehan’s post.
Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski, a Republican, said he doesn’t participate in social media and wasn’t aware of the exchange, but was pleased with Baczewski’s comments during Thursday’s meeting.
“I do respect that Joe owned it and took responsibility for it at a public meeting,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a board issue.”
“My intention wasn’t to bully anyone, I was just upset at the situation,” Baczewski said Friday. “I don’t think I’ll be calling anyone a name ever again.”
Baczewski, a nurse, said he was frustrated with state officials “trying to dictate how we’re supposed to talk to our kids.”
Linehan said she forwarded the tips sheet, which originated with the National Association of School Psychologists, to help parents. The document has been viewed on her official website nearly 600 times.
She wasn’t “personally upset” at being called a buffoon, adding she’d rather discuss education initiatives with Baczewski than argue over a tip sheet for parents.
“I’m a public official and I put myself out there,” Linehan said. “I recognize that sometimes the things we talk about may be sensitive subjects and may elicit an emotional response from someone.”
Aresimowicz couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.