NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Noblesville Schools announced Tuesday that Mark Booth will no longer serve as the district’s director of special education after he shared a meme on social media that was found to be offensive to special education.
The district denounced the post and formally disciplined Booth prior to communicating that he will not return to the special education director role. Booth will shift from the leadership role to one focused on analytical compliance for the district.
Booth has been Noblesville’s special education director since 2004, championing several innovative and award-winning special education practices, including placement of special education students in general education classrooms, strategies to better meet state academic standards, a successful work-study program and leadership in unified athletics.
The district will begin the recruiting process for Booth’s replacement immediately, and a new director will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, assistant special education director Erin Rood will serve as interim special education director.
Noblesville Schools released the following statement regarding the matter:
We recently became aware of a “meme” our special education director shared online that insulted President Trump, referencing special needs in a disappointing attempt at humor.
The post was unacceptable and clearly exhibited a serious lack of judgment. Superintendent Niedermeyer has personally addressed the situation with a formal disciplinary action and will also be closely monitoring activity going forward.
Noblesville Schools is wholeheartedly committed to creating and maintaining a culture of respect and inclusion for all students and staff, and has a long history of building strong relationships and inclusive opportunities for our students with special needs.
Booth issued the following statement:
I am writing to ask for your forgiveness. I recently shared a “meme” that someone created online that insulted President Trump, referencing special needs in a disrespectful and inappropriate manner.
I’m embarrassed by this lapse in my judgment, as this meme does not reflect my heart and life mission of respectfully and compassionately serving students with special needs. It also does not reflect personal content I typically share online, which is focused on inspirational quotes, my family and my deep faith in God.
For almost 30 years, I’ve dedicated my life to advocating for students with disabilities, to ensure they have the same opportunities as other students in classrooms, programs and in the community. Because of my love for this special population, I have also adopted a son with a disability.
I recognize that this incident may have eroded your confidence in me as a leader and I’m committed to working to earn back your trust.
I spend a day every month meeting with parents of students with disabilities and supporting them in advocating for their children. I also spend several days each month in all 10 of our schools meeting with teachers and building leaders, answering questions about special education, and making sure that our staff does what is needed to help students with disabilities.
I want you to know that I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am willing to share my life mission with anyone at any time. You are welcome to join me in future outreach opportunities so that I can address concerns you may have and demonstrate my commitment to respect and inclusion. I will notify you regarding specifics of our next meetings.
I ask that you judge me overall not on this regrettable incident, but on my many years of dedication to our students on behalf of the special education community.
Thank you for your grace and for the privilege of serving you and your children.