Update (10:20 p.m.):

Update: Toward the end of Tuesday night’s meeting, board member Sherry Lynn Womack responded to the vote to investigate her involvement in the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. Her statement: 

“Last I checked, this is a free country. And I have a constitutionally protected right to assemble and express my concerns in public places. My service to the Lee County Board of Education is not conditioned on me waiving those rights. I also realize that as an elected official, my actions are constantly being scrutinized. So it comes as no surprise there are some who will be critical of my participation in the rally at the capital last Wednesday. That is their prerogative.

“I do not regret traveling by bus to Washington, D.C., in support of my president. I joined over a million other patriots who were there to celebrate President Trump’s many accomplishments and to show my support for him in this difficult time, for many have questioned the legitimacy of this election. I did not participate in any violent activities, nor do I condone the behaviors of some protestors who swarmed into the Capitol. I condemn all actions of violence and threats to government officials that took place. And I would highly recommend all board members actually read our policy code 2220 before they make the decision to waste tax dollars to hire an attorney to look into something that is completely false.”

Original story

The Lee County Board of Education voted 5-2 Tuesday night to investigate board member Sherry Lynn Womack’s involvement in a rally for President Trump in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 that culminated with the violent siege of the Capitol building. 

More than 50 statements from members of the community and even Lee County students condemning Womack’s presence at the rally were read aloud by Superintendent Andy Bryan before board member Pat McCracken offered a motion authorizing school attorney Jimmy Love to lead the investigation. The motion passed 5-2 with Republicans Sandra Bowen and Christine Hilliard voting in favor and Pam Sutton and Womack herself voting against.

Womack and Sutton were the only two board members not physically present at Tuesday’s meeting, both attending via Zoom. And Womack did not offer a statement about the vote (as of 9 p.m. Tuesday), aside from saying “absolutely not” when voting for the investigation. 

The vote stems from Womack and her husband Jim’s presence in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6. Sherry Lynn was quoted in an article by the USA Today that day saying she traveled to Washington to “demand better election security and stronger voter ID laws,” citing what she believed to be “suspicious” videos of ballot counting in Georgia.  

“I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists,” she told USA Today. “But these are legitimate questions that need to be asked.”

Womack is not believed to have entered the Capitol when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed its halls hours later. But several of the public statements read Tuesday night were critical of her identifying herself as a member of the Lee County Board of Education in the article. 

Brenda Johnson and Vonda Reives of Sanford said in a joint statement that they believed Womack violated the board’s Policy Code 2220, which states any person speaking in an official capacity should do so “from the standpoint of the best interests of the school district [and] not as a representative of his or her own personal ideas or feelings.” 

“Sherry Lynn Womack pursued to speak to the media … and presented questions that were already discounted by many sources,” Johnson and Reives wrote, “and her personal actions to represent herself as a board of education member in the aftermath of this violent riot is despicable.” 

Jayden Marshall, a Lee County High School student, said he doesn’t want someone who “represents hate” on the school board. 

“Mrs. Womack should also act as a leader and should not be attending an event that is going against CDC [guidelines] and coming back home to spread the virus,” Marshall wrote. “She posted pictures on her personal social media account at the event, and she was not wearing any personal protection gear.” 

LCHS junior Alyssa Martin said she was “extremely disgusted” by Womack’s presence in D.C.

“Her participation … was a clear representation of a leader who stands for hatred, oppression against minorities and a symbol of racism — meaning she shares the same ideology and values as the riot symbolized,” Martin wrote. “I demand her immediate resignation from the Lee County Board of Education, because the actions she has taken makes me feel unsafe.”

The majority of the comments concerning Womack asked for her resignation or removal from the board. A few were in support of her. 

“I am dismayed that you are crucifying a board member for their political beliefs,” wrote Cindi McGee. “Cancel culture is socialist and not what Lee County Schools should be setting as an example for their students. They should be taught that bullying is wrong. You are currently the biggest bullies in the room. Shame on you and your attempts to silence diversity of thought.”

Of the public statements read Tuesday, more than half were about Womack and the rest were concerning COVID-19 guidelines and for and against statements for Lee County Schools to transition to more in-person classes.