WINCHESTER — The online history of Frederick County School Board Opequon District candidate Bryan L. Nuri is being questioned by some voters.
Nuri, 41, frequently posts comments on social media sites, and he is often outspoken.
In a tweet on Jan. 1, for instance, Nuri told a viral conservative figure on Twitter that she is “still a simple retard.” In a Nov. 30, 2018, Twitter response, he referred to President Donald Trump as “Retard-in-Chief,” and he called a conservative activist advocating for guns rights a “media whore” on Aug. 30, 2018, on Twitter.
Michele Strachan, who lives in the Opequon District and works as a special education aide for Frederick County Public Schools, said Nuri will not get her vote based on his use of the word “retard” alone. Strachan works with students with all forms of disabilities.
“It’s degrading,” Strachan said. “I feel like if you are running for something in the government platform you should really check how you behaved even before you say you are running.”
Nuri, a tax preparer and bookkeeper at Liberty Tax, is making his first run at elected office in the Nov. 5 election. He is working toward becoming a teacher.
He told The Star this week that his use of “retard” was “a very poor choice of words” and “going forward that will not be part of my vocabulary.”
But he stands behind his outspoken online presence. Both his Facebook and Twitter accounts say, “If you want it sugar-coated, you’ve come to the wrong place, cupcake.”
Nuri said he feels compelled to regularly comment on social media sites because he’s motivated to educate others. If elected, he said he plans to continue with “no less conviction than before,” but he will do so more thoughtfully.
“I am a frank problem solver,” he said. “Some people don’t like blunt answers. I simply seek to make my community a better place, a place to be proud to live in for all of us.”
He believes School Board representatives should be nonpartisan, adding that he doesn’t necessarily lean one way politically. When it comes to transparency in school spending, he said he takes a conservative stance, while he has a liberal stance on supporting arts education.
But Opequon District voter Chris Jarrell, vice president of the Parent-Teacher Organization at Bass-Hoover Elementary School, thinks Nuri’s comments on Facebook and Twitter are “very concerning,” adding that they sometimes use “harsh” language that’s “divisive.” He feels that someone running for elected office should choose their words wisely. “His words aren’t a good example,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell also is concerned with what he called a partisan tone in Nuri’s comments.
Frederick County School Board Chairman John Lamanna, who is running for the Board of Supervisors and not seeking re-election to the School Board, said that if a School Board member used language online that he deemed offensive, he would have a conversation with that person.
According to Frederick County Public Schools policy, it is strongly recommended that all employees, including School Board members, not use FCPS accounts to create emails or social media networking accounts for personal use. Recommendations are given on how they should use their personal networking sites, which includes refraining from “inappropriate electronic communication with students,” avoiding the “appearance of impropriety,” refraining from “posting negative information about students, fellow employees or the school division” and refraining from “uploading inappropriate content.”
The policy suggests practicing “online reputation management by considering the personal, professional impact” of what they post.
Nuri also has an account on the website Deviant Art featuring photographs he took of nude and partially dressed women, which as of Tuesday were publicly accessible. He confirmed the account was his and said he took the studio photos many years ago of models in hopes of reviving his photography career.
“It was years ago and has nothing to do with my current activities,” Nuri said. “It was a complicated and rough time.”
Nuri said he regrets that some people have been offended by his online posts. He said that’s not his intent. He also said he doesn’t plan to delete his posts on Twitter or Facebook, because that would make it appear that he is hiding something. In regard to his Deviant Art account, he said he’s not sure he has the password for his profile on the website anymore.
“I know that I have upset some in our community with my words, but I want everyone to know that they originated from a place of caring and a desire to form a more perfect union,” Nuri said.
Nuri’s opponent for the Opequon District seat, Bradley Comstock, a local Realtor, said he had not seen Nuri’s online posts and declined to comment.