The Audacity Of Harrie Ellen Minnehan

Harrie Ellen Minnehan

Over the past year, there have been several attempts to get Christina Board of Education member Shirley Saffer to resign from the school board.  Back in 2014, Saffer was arrested for harassment following a purported argument with a bus driver.  Last summer, Saffer pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge of harassment, paid a fine, and was ordered to stay away from the bus driver.  What hasn’t been reported was what led to the argument or any physical proof that Saffer used a racial slur in the argument.  Despite this lack of essential forensic evidence, members of the Christina Board of Education have made a few attempts to get Saffer to resign.  With a push from the Friends of Christina group as early as last November, the Board President Harrie Ellen Minnehan appears to be making it her mission in life to make Saffer resign.  The latest attempt, shown below, stems from a civil suit against Saffer and the district.

Earlier this year, the board put forth a resolution asking Saffer to resign.  A lengthy conversation happened at that board meeting in which Saffer’s alleged us of “the n word” was taken out of the resolution as there was no proof it was actually said.  No recordings of the argument showed whether it was said one way or the other.  Let me be very clear: I do not condone the use of that word, ever, and under any circumstances.  I don’t think anyone should use that word in any situation.  Even African-Americans.  It is symbolic of a time in our country’s history when the word was used to denigrate and humiliate African-Americans.  I think ANY use of the word continues to remind us of that history.  I actually saw a fake email, constructed to make it look like I used that word recently.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate that word.  But what was very interesting was who showed me that email and that person’s defense of myself in stating they absolutely knew I didn’t say it.  How would that person know, with 100% certainty, that I didn’t?  Something to ponder readers…but I digress…

If Saffer did or didn’t use the word is now immaterial.  She was accused, pled guilty, and paid her debt to society.  So why is Minnehan continuing the witch hunt?  There is nothing in Delaware law that can make a school board member resign.  If Saffer didn’t resign immediately after the incident, last summer when she went to trial, after the Friends of Christina made a concerted effort to get her to resign, and after the board’s prior resolution a few months ago, why would she do so now?  Her term expires in a little over a year.

Based on the civil suit filed, my guess is Minnehan doesn’t want the district or any board members dragged into it.  Should Saffer resign, I would guess the board and district wouldn’t have to pay any legal costs based on the suit.  Which is certainly Minnehan’s desire.  But by continuing this witch hunt against Saffer, she is stoking the flames.  She wants a confrontation, in my opinion.  But it hasn’t happened.  For a Board President who seems to bash others and their actions, she sure has a way of poking the bear any chance she gets.  What if the board issued resolutions asking for Minnehan to resign based on her time as the Pencader Business School Board President?  I’m guessing she wouldn’t like that one bit.  Saffer is not going to resign no matter how many petitions or board resolutions surface in the future.  Minnehan needs to get over it and pay more attention to her district and stop wasting the board and the district’s time on this.  Just because someone holds a gavel doesn’t make them lord of the universe.  With great power must also come great responsibility.  I’m trying to see some good in Minnehan’s multiple resolutions here, but I just can’t.

Did Saffer make a mistake?  No one knows what was really said that day.  At least with empirical evidence.  No one knows publicly what prompted the exchange of words in the first place.  Yes, she pled guilty, but the charge was harassment.  Without knowing, and this is just a picture I am painting here, Saffer may have seen the bus driver do something.  Nobody just goes up to a bus driver to start something for no reason unless they are clinically insane.  Shirley Saffer is not insane.  At heart, Saffer cares about kids.  She went to the bus, exchanged words with the bus driver, and something was said.  It was in the heat of the moment that Saffer may have said something which could be construed as harassment.  It is something many of us have done at one point in time, including Minnehan.  No one is an angel, no one is perfect.  Saffer, whatever happened that day, regrets what happened.  Of that I can be sure.  But to continue to be held under the microscope constantly by someone who should be viewing her as a part of a seven member team and not this horrible person Minnehan projects… I view what Minnehan is doing as harassment.  I view Minnehan’s attempts to have Saffer resign as petty and vindictive.  I don’t think it is about the money issue.  I think it is about power.  Minnehan wants to solidify support on any future votes for whatever agenda items she wants action on, in my opinion.  In looking at how the board votes on controversial items have gone down, there are three votes that tend to vote one way, and three that vote the other.  Saffer and Minnehan are not on the same team.

Based on comments made by Minnehan on social media during the recent board election race between incumbent Elizabeth Paige and Desiree Brady, Minnehan was very passive-aggressive in her comments about the board and certain members on the board.  While others do this as well, I find it very hypocritical for Minnehan to accuse others of causing controversy when she publicly does it herself.  Because I called her out on this, she unfriended me on Facebook.  I have spent the time since in intense therapy trying to get over it.  It was quite a blow!  But seriously, it was just very odd for her to go on one of her fellow board members campaign page and write disparaging things about the board she is supposed to run as the president.

I’ve known Minnehan for a couple of years now.  I first met her at the epic priority schools Christina board meeting in September, 2014.  I liked how she defended the district and railed against the DOE in the months after.  But by the time the priority showdown reached it’s zenith, I couldn’t tell which side Minnehan was on anymore.  She was in agreement with the majority of the board members in going forth with the MOU with the DOE, but ultimately it was her opposition to one of the key parts of it that led to the MOU not going forth until a revised one went out months later based on the WEAC recommendations.

Minnehan and myself have a history, and it is not a great one.  Last summer we clashed over a crazy innuendo against, ironically, herself and Saffer.  I apologized immediately once I realized how I had been fooled by the person granting the innuendo, in email and on my blog.  But Minnehan kept insisting I come to the next Christina Board meeting and apologize publicly.  I advised her many times it wasn’t going to happen, and even if I could, I had a hernia surgery coming up that would prevent me from attending anyways.  Despite that, she felt the need to apologize for me (for a third time) at that board meeting.  And I won’t even get into the Bizarro world of what happened last month because I still can’t wrap my head around it all.  Based on that, I said I would never write about Christina again.  Obviously, I changed my mind.  I won’t let veiled threats stifle me from expressing my opinion or writing about the district.  And the biggest problem I see is the board president.  I have no doubt she will be offended, but I truly don’t care.  When I see crap like this on their agenda, it makes me want to throw up.  As Bob A said a few months back, “Let it go!”

While this is a federal case, it is not at the federal level.  Saffer lives in Delaware and the bus driver lives in another state.  Based on legal guidelines for lawsuits, the feds take over when the parties live in different states.

Updated, 10:45pm: Apparently this resolution was pulled from Christina’s board meeting agenda tonight.  I wonder why…



18 thoughts on “The Audacity Of Harrie Ellen Minnehan

  1. Ok, I’m the idiot without a 10 ft pole. But, please don’t attack. Because I think I can explain part of this resolution based on what I learned during my time, all those years ago on the CSD board and I can do it without attacking either party.

    Under most circumstances school board members are provided legal coverage by the boards/districts legal team. However, there are times when a board is required to separate itself from a board member in order to protect the districts $. This resolution was clearly written by a district’s attorney. That, I have no doubt of. The attorney is attempting to severe the official duties and responsibilities a board member from the admitted behavior so that the remainder of the board in whole can be dismissed from the lawsuit(s). Now, I have no idea what happened last night that caused the resolution to be pulled. But, I don’t think the document is as nefarious as it first appears. And please don’t cite the lines for signature as the appearance of a clear author. It’s standardized.


      1. Kevin,

        It was not written by the attorney. Elizabeth is deflecting. the author is embedded in the document as you rightly point out. Not on its face but in the meta data…again by RIGHT clicking on the downloaded document, document properties, then first tab, description.

        Smoking gun.


    1. Interestingly, before Mr. Young made his paranoid post, I had already responded to Kevin that I can’t right click my kids chromebook, thus I couldn’t see who wrote/published the document. Although I did ask him if that attribution was the writers or the posters?

      And magically, my post disappeared just in time for Mr. Young to take another potshot at me. Keep it up John. It’s always a pleasure.

      Thanks, Kevin


      1. Whoever creates the PDF is the author. I could write a document on word, but if you create the PDF and copy it onto the PDF, the authorship is attributed to you. Some PDFs have the author as blank, so I cannot say for certain if it is automatically entered or if someone has to type it in.


        1. There is nothing untrue. My comment was magically whisked off of ED, replaced by yours. Kevin?

          And yes, when an individual board member is being sued for something that happened outside their capacity as a board member, and then the entire body is named in the suit, it is normal to try to separate out the suit and drop the public body that presumably had nothing to do with the individual and his/her action personal actions.

          That’s what happens. That’s not defending an untruth. That’s not deflecting. That IS potential Context.

          Rather that spew repeatedly for your latest party of interest, how about your try educate Kevin’s readers about the mechanics of school boarding. Or start paying my school tax bill, b/c this lawsuit is going to get buried in an enormous settlement if the board doesn’t extricate itself. The real question is how much will the insurers pay? They cap. And how much more is the district going to have to cough up out of local funds to pay the difference to keep it from ever seeing the light of day or the cover of the News Journal. How much will we tax payers pay to keep the video off Youtube?

          You know how this works.


          1. Elizabeth, I combed through my spam folder (which is a pain in the ass cause I get about 300 day) all the way back to when I went on my Christina tear (Tuesday afternoon) and I saw no comments from you that were in there. There was nothing in my trash or pending folder either from you. What was the nature of the comment?


  2. This suit seems likely to cost the district tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars. Ms. Saffer admits to having behaved badly in the incident cited, and whatever she actually said (whether or not she used the racial epithet that the driver accused her of), the incident continues to have repercussions for the district. It is not unusual for CEOs to step down in the interest of shareholders when their purported behavior is negatively affecting the company–even while insisting that they did not do what they are accused of having done. This is what I would like Ms. Saffer to do in this instance. If resolving this suit costs the district significant attorneys’ fees (or damages), all of that will be seen by taxpayers as a terrible waste of public money, reducing support for our next referendum (in two years!). As an advocate for district students, Ms. Saffer could do those students the most good at this stage by acknowledging that her behavior in that one instance continues to damage the district’s reputation and finances–and stepping down on those grounds. This would be magnanimous, and could be done without admission of guilt (beyond what she has already acknowledged).


    1. And does this suit even have any merit? If Ms. Saffer already had this issue dealth with in a court of law, why the witch hunt? This isn’t the first time a resolution like this floated around the board at Christina. What was the reason then? Oh yeah, because they were afraid the referendum wouldn’t pass, which it did. Ms. Saffer doesn’t have to resign, and I don’t believe she will. By continuing to bring up the issue, isn’t that lending further credence to any potential lawsuit?


      1. Yes, they have insurance. However, the insurance will not cover the behavior of a board member when he/she gets in legal trouble outside the scope of his/her board duties.

        Please note, I like Mrs. Saffer. I agree she’s paid in spades and that there has been little released to the public about why the incident occurred.

        Is/Are the latest case(s) with our without merit? It’s a litigious society.

        And kevin, my missing comment noted that I couldn’t right click on chromebook and wished we had an attorney on these blogs who could separate fact from fiction.


          1. I wasn’t suggesting hiring a lawyer. I was juat wishing there was one who was interested in pro bono education for the public. Alas, a pipedream.


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