SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Voters in Springfield are voicing their opinions on a social media controversy affecting the Springfield school board race.

One candidate, Landon McCarter, has come under fire for a racially insensitive Facebook post from 2018.

“I’ve spoken with a lot of parents that are disgusted. They’re hurt, they’re appalled,” said voter Brittany Dyer.

Dyer says she plans to vote in next month’s election and says she has kids in the district.

“My main focus is our students will never be able to learn if they don’t feel safe first, and that includes all of our students of color, that includes the LGBTQ community,” Dyer said. “If we are not allowing a space for them that they feel safe in, we’re never going to see higher, higher test scores. We’re never going to see them flourish in an academic environment.”

The now-deleted post resurfaced near the end of last week, and McCarter issued this statement to KOLR10:

“I do not recall posting the meme in 2018.  Since I run a digital ad agency, I have had many staff with access to my social profiles who post content on my behalf.  This is a mere distraction of the real issues facing our district.  Our academic performance has been in decline for 12 years.  We have talented teachers, administrators, and support staff leaving our district in record numbers because of distractions taking precedence over real issues that are hindering the learning and development of our kids in our public school system.  The community is fed up with this.  They are demanding change.  Let’s please focus on real issues on how to improve our struggling district and not on internet memes from 2018.”

Landon McCarter, Springfield Public Schools school board candidate

KOLR10 spoke to parents and students about the controversial post at an election forum held at Ozarks Technical Community College.

“I don’t know why it was posted,” said Renae Dyer-Lacio.

Dyer-Lacio, another local voter, said the image, which showed curly black hair protruding from the windows of a castle with an afro pick at the top and posed the question, ‘What would Rapunzel look like if she was black?’ left her confused.

“Even if Rapunzel was black, there was no reason for the afro because like, I don’t really know. It was confusing,” Dyer-Lacio said.

Others KOLR10 spoke to say the post could have lingering effects down the road for students.

“If they see that or that they have parents with hair like that might feel marginalized and outcast and like they’re not welcome in the schools,” voter Timmy Miano said.

“I would get told that I was dirty because of the color of my skin or that I needed to clean myself,” Dyer-Lacio said.

KOLR10 also spoke to supporters of McCarter off-camera, who tell me they agree with McCarter that the five-year-old post is a distraction.

“If people are voting for you and you have to talk to people and they’re talking about it, it’s not a distraction. It’s an issue,” Miano said.

Voters will decide which candidates will occupy two open school board seats at the ballot box April 4.