Fairfax Co. school board member apologizes after using slur in hot mic moment

Fairfax County School Board member Karen Keys-Gamarra was heard using a slur about people with disabilities during a hot mic moment at the board’s Thursday meeting.

Board members were sorting out how to let an audience member speak for someone who couldn’t be in attendance when at-large member Keys-Gamarra can be heard saying “We cannot be this r—-.”



Keys-Gamarra sent a statement to WTOP, saying she deeply regretted using the word.

“While I did not intend an offensive word to refer to any particular person or the parent community, I did insult my fellow school board members, and in turn, offended members of the community,” Keys-Gamarra wrote.

“I thought the board should allow a parent to finish her point and was frustrated with the outcome,” the statement continued. “I know that word has historically been used to ridicule and demean others in ways that run counter to my beliefs and the work I’ve championed as a School Board member.

Keys-Gamarra concluded by saying “that’s not what is in my heart,” and asked for forgiveness from her fellow board members and the community.

A group serving special needs kids and their parents in the county said that Keys-Gamarra also reached out to them to apologize.

A statement from the Fairfax County School Board called Keys-Gamarra’s use of the slur “unacceptable under any circumstance” and apologized for the hurt and offense the incident caused in the community. They said they would be meeting with Keys-Gamarra to discuss the matter with her further.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

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