Members apologetic after heated school board squabble

Posted at 11:48 PM, Jun 20, 2013

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- At the beginning of the year, Richmond’s newly elected school board vowed to work in unison.

Now, just six months later, the board is divided after Kim Gray and Tichi Pinkney-Eppes, exchanged harsh words and came close to a physical altercation.

“It’s actually embarrassing, you know, my response. I used inappropriate language,” said Pinkney-Eppes.

Pinkney-Eppes admits to blatantly telling Gray to "shut up while I’m speaking."

Pinkney-Eppes told CBS 6 that she felt provoked by Gray for the duration of the board's Monday meeting. She said Gray crossed the line by approaching her and telling her "Don't you ever tell me to shut up again.

“I would apologize for that use of language. However, I stand firm on, I will not be intimidated or threatened,” says Pinkney-Eppes.

CBS 6 contacted Gray by phone, who didn't want to talk in detail about the incident, but said it was never her intent to intimidate Pinkney-Eppes.

“Tensions have run high at times and I think this is one of those situations where tensions ran high. I know I’m ready to put it behind me and I imagine everyone else is too,” said Gray.

This issue won't be going away for the board, at least not yet.  Shonda Harris-Muhammed is demanding disciplinary action be taken to prevent it from happening again.

“We have a lot of things to learn and governance is one. Governance is one of them and that's going to happen,” said Harris-Muhammed.

This confrontation stemmed from a discussion about the search process for a new superintendent. That’s one of many large tasks ahead for this board, along with the closure of three schools.

The board's chair says, these arguments will not hinder the process.

“I think we're all passionate about Richmond Public Schools, but, we all have to be mindful and cognizant of how that passion comes out,” said Jeff Bourne, chair of the board.

Board members said they will be interviewing five candidates for the interim superintendent position tomorrow and Saturday.