THE INVESTIGATORS: Despite denial, records show extensive online shopping by Connie Bernard during crucial board meeting
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member, Connie Bernard, was indeed online shopping for nearly an hour during a recent school board meeting that discussed the renaming of Lee High School, a review by the 9News Investigators reveals.
Tempers flared over the renaming of Lee High at a packed school board meeting two weeks ago.
”I’m getting emotional about this because this affects me, but not just me, but every single student inside of this system,” board member, Dadrius Lanus, said during the meeting.
Records show Bernard’s attention may have been somewhere else during a portion of that debate.
Bernard has previously denied online shopping during the June 18 meeting, claiming her computer simply got a “pop up” ad that she failed to close, The Advocate newspaper reported.
WAFB obtained a copy of Bernard’s internet search history through a public records request.
Records show she was shopping for discounted women’s clothing on an online consignment and thrift store website called thredUP.
At one point, the records obtained by WAFB show Bernard even added an item to her shopping cart.
Bernard began online shopping just before 8:30 p.m. as the board was discussing adding a new position at the school board office, as well as a vendor for COVID-19 prevention products.
She continued her online shopping as the board next began discussing the renaming of Lee High, a school named after Confederate general, Robert E. Lee.
“It’s a topic that nobody wants to talk about, so it’s a lot easier to just kick it down the road and say, ‘Oh, we’ll talk about it later.' Well, the things that are happening in our society right now were pushing this forward anyway,” board member, Evelyn Ware-Jackson, said during the discussion.
Ware-Jackson was sitting right next to Bernard during the meeting and even as she was busy discussing the importance of removing the Confederate general’s name from the school, Bernard’s search history reveals she was browsing for discounted women’s clothing. Specifically, records show Bernard was looking at two jackets: one described as a “cut loose 100% cotton floral blue coat size XS” and the other described as an “Old Navy 100% floral ivory jacket size XS”.
Video from the EBR school board’s live stream shows Bernard continuing to scroll on her laptop while several board members were passionately discussing Lee High and at one point, she can even be seen reaching for a cord to plug in the laptop during the meeting.
She stopped shopping, however, by the time the public comment portion of the meeting started.
Bernard and other board members ultimately voted unanimously to rename the school.
Bernard became the target of national ridicule after former state Senate candidate, Gary Chambers, posted a photo of her online shopping during the board meeting.
Chambers also brought up the photo as he addressed the board during public comment that night.
“You sat your arrogant self in here and sit on [the computer] shopping while the pain and the hurt of the people of this community is on display,” Chambers said at the meeting. “You should walk out of here and resign and never come back, because you are the example of racism in this community.”
Bernard was already being criticized by some for comments she made that implied members of the public needed to perform more research into Lee’s legacy before supporting the name change.
A petition to remove Bernard as a representative on the school board has since been launched. Twenty-five percent of people in Bernard’s district would need to sign the recall petition within the next 180 days for it to have an effect.
FuturePAC, a political action committee affiliated with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, has called on Bernard to resign.
Bernard has said she will not step down.
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