Mayhem Over Mascot: Fists Fly at School Board Meeting

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The Glastonbury school board meeting ended abruptly Tuesday night.  Witnesses told NBC Connecticut that school board member Ray McFall was involved in a fight with someone in the audience. 

“I couldn’t believe that that kind of thing could go on in our school system,” said Jennifer Muller, whose daughter is a freshman at Glastonbury High School.

“People are shocked,” said John Cavanna, a member of the Town Council and a police officer in another community.

Cavanna was called to break up the fight.

“I saw the scuffle taking place.  I saw one gentleman get pushed and then strike the other gentleman in the face,” said Cavanna.

Muller couldn’t attend the board meeting in person so she watched it virtually.  She said she was “blown away” by what she saw on her computer screen.

“It was just appalling that adults are gonna act that way over a mascot,” she said.

The meeting was held to discuss a petition that asks school officials to reconsider last year’s decision to drop the high school’s tomahawk mascot.

“The way it got done -- under what everybody in town is saying is the cover of Covid. There was never really a moment in time for the public to get together and voice their opinion,” Cavanna said.

Tuesday night, members of the public were given three minutes each to speak.  Witnesses said McFall, the school board’s secretary, gave time cues.  They said the man who punched him had stepped up to the microphone earlier and may have been upset that he was cut off.

“This has been going on with the limitations of how long people are able to speak at meetings and people are getting very upset,” Muller said.

Witnesses said McFall later went into the audience during the board’s recess and got into an argument with the man. 

An NBC Connecticut camera caught what happened next. McFall and the man were face to face when McFall pushed the man away.  The man then took a swing at McFall, punching him in the head and knocking him to the ground.  The meeting was adjourned.  No vote was taken. 

“When you go in there you know it can get heated.  These are people’s children, these are their lives, they want to take care of that,” said Muller. “If somebody was in my face I guess I too would probably act out, I don’t know if I’d hit someone, but it is your personal space.”

Superintendent Dr. Alan Bookman released a statement:

“The Board of Education appreciates that there will always be passionate testimony when controversial issues are considered. But, it is critical that we listen to each other with respect and follow meeting rules so that everyone can be heard.”

“As adults we cannot conduct ourself (sic) in this manner, especially when we’re setting an example inside of a school environment.  It can’t happen,” said Cavanna.

No arrests were made.  Glastonbury police said they are investigating.

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