Educators walk past the new wing at Belfast Area High School in this 2019 file photo. Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

BELFAST, Maine — The chair of Regional School Unit 71 resigned Wednesday night at an emergency board meeting convened after inflammatory remarks she posted on social media about supporters of President Donald Trump drew broad criticism.

Caitlin Hills, who has served on the school board for nearly eight years, made the comments on Election Night in a public post on her own Facebook page. She deleted them, but screenshots of the post were widely shared.

Hills used profanities to describe Trump supporters and said those who backed the president should “unfriend her now.” She also called a Belfast Area High School student “a freak,” though she explained later that the two have a friendly relationship on social media and often tease each other about politics.

The exchange underscores how disagreements on social media can spill over into real life, and illustrates the consequences that often come with free speech.

“I will not apologize for my post on my personal Facebook page. I do not condone racism, sexism or homophobia,” Hills said Wednesday after submitting her resignation. “I do not want to be associated on Facebook or elsewhere with people who voted for a man who embodies these odious qualities. However, this incident is distracting the public from the excellent work this board and this district have done and continue to do.”

Mary Alice McLean, the RSU 71 superintendent, said Wednesday afternoon that the school board met privately to discuss the matter.

The district comprises students from Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Searsmont and Swanville.

Traci Mailloux, a Belfast businessperson and mother of a seventh grader and a high school senior, said she was disappointed to see Hills’ comments. She believes that elected officials have an obligation to represent all people — and not target individuals for their beliefs.

“I think that the election has heightened a lot of feelings and brought out honestly the worst in people,” Mailloux said. “People have very, very strong feelings … but you cannot act on these feelings and impulses. You have people watching. You have people looking up to you — students, parents and the whole community.”

Mailloux said Wednesday afternoon that at the very least, she wanted Hills to apologize for her comments.

“I think it’s very important for kids to see there are consequences for your actions,” she said. “That’s the real world.”