Missoula County Public Schools trustee Nancy Pickhardt told a standing-room-only audience at Tuesday night's school board meeting that she deeply regrets a profane phone message she left on the answering machine of a board critic.
Pickhardt told the critic and his wife - a retired schoolteacher - to "go (expletive) yourselves" in the message, which came in response to a letter to the editor published in the Missoulian, criticizing the board's decision to give MCPS Superintendent Alex Apostle a significant pay raise.
In a prepared statement read at the start of the meeting, Pickhardt said:
"The guiding principles of my life have been twofold: to treat others as I would like to be treated and to show my appreciation for the good things in my own life by making the lives of others better in any way I can.
"Two weeks ago, I compromised my own values. I let feelings of anger and frustration dictate my behavior when I left a voice mail message for Nick and Caroline Pickolick that was rude and vulgar. I made a big mistake and I deeply regret my actions. I extend my heartfelt apologies to the Pickolicks.
"I take full responsibility for my actions, and they should in no way be construed to reflect on the other members of this board or our respected superintendent, Dr. Alex Apostle.
"I know that many opinions have been voiced about my actions that, in fairness, have been both critical and disparaging. I have received many other messages from people who have encouraged me to ‘hang in there' and ‘don't give up.'
"I believe deeply in the power of great public education and, in particular, the vision and direction that this board, along with Dr. Apostle, has worked diligently to create and move toward.
"I ask Dr. Apostle, my fellow board members, the employees of the Missoula County Public Schools, and the members of this community for forgiveness for my inappropriate actions and language.
"It is my great desire to continue to be a member of this board, but ONLY as long as I am able to support and work toward making the Missoula County Public Schools the very best they can be.
"The goal of the board of trustees and our superintendent has not and will not waiver: achievement and success for all students, no exceptions. I would like the opportunity to continue to work toward this end."