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Benjamin Sheppard

Hood River County School District Board Member Benjamin Sheppard submitted a letter of resignation to the Hood River County School District earlier this week.

His resignation follows community backlash related to his controversial behavior at Rep. Greg Walden’s town hall last month, which included shouting questions and comments at Rep. Walden from the audience and reportedly wearing a jacket portraying the American flag upside down.

The Hood River County School District Board of Directors aims to select a replacement for Sheppard’s vacant Position 2 at an upcoming public school board meeting on April 24.

“I have appreciated having Ben (Sheppard) on the board, and I feel like he is trying to do the right thing under pressure to make sure that the school district doesn’t have negative ramifications for his personal views, and I think that’s a noble thing to do,” said Superintendent Dan Goldman. “I’m looking forward to trying to bring a new board member on in the near future.”

Sheppard’s letter of resignation, provided to the News by the Hood River County School District, reads:

“I wish to extend a sincere and heartfelt apology to the school board members, superintendent, employees, and students of the Hood River County School District.

“I ran for the school board two years ago because I had resolved to choose an institution that I believe in and work to protect it. I chose the school district because I believe so strongly in the institution of public education.

“It has become clear to me that my actions at Congressman Walden’s recent town hall, though well-intentioned, have imperiled the perceived integrity of the school board, and for that reason, I hereby resign my position effective immediately.

“Thank you to all district personnel; it was a genuine pleasure to meet and work with you.”

When contacted by the News for comment, Sheppard said, “I have always acted in accordance with my conscience, my sense of civic duty and patriotism, and my desire to see our democracy strengthened, not weakened.” He added, in reference to the members of Hood River Valley High School’s Earth Action Club who spoke at Rep. Walden’s March 15 town hall, “I am deeply impressed and proud of our students and their activism on the subject of man-made climate change.”

Applications for the vacant position will be posted on the district website, www.hoodriver.k12.or.us, and are due by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17. For more information, contact School Board Administrative Assistant Terri Martz at 541-387-5013 or terri.martz@hoodriver.k12.or.us.

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