ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The Head of Upper School at Arlington’s Oakridge School is the latest to be snared in a social media firestorm after sending a profanity-laced message to Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti.
Leaders at Arlington’s Oakridge School announced Monday afternoon, administrator Butch Groves was suspended indefinitely over the Twitter direct message.
The message has been shared tens of thousands of times.
In a statement to parents and the public via Twitter, the Head of School, Jon Kellam said, “Butch Groves, Head of Upper School, sent an inappropriate private message to attorney Michael Avenatti from his personal social media account. I have been in contact with Mr. Groves who has admitted to the communication; he deeply regrets his comments and the negative attention brought to the school.” The statement goes on to say, “That said, The Oakridge School has clear policies in place regarding online and face-to-face communications. Oakridge employees are expected to maintain the respect, dignity and professionalism that is consistent with our mission. Mr. Groves’ conduct was unacceptable and inconsistent with these policies and standards. I have therefore suspended Mr. Groves indefinitely as we conclude our investigation.”
“Something happens between keyboard and brain,” says Eddie Reeves, owner of Reeves Strategy Group in Dallas, a social media and marketing company. “People take leave of their senses.”
And it’s keeping Reeves in business. He helps companies craft policies to hopefully avoid public relations nightmares like the Twitter storm that descended on Oakridge overnight. Head of Upper School Butch Groves, who has been with the school since 2007 according to the school website, fired off the angry message to Avenatti after he announced that he was representing another woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of misconduct.
CBSDFW.com can’t print Groves’ message due to the vulgarity, but Avenatti shared it with his followers, writing “Meet @butchgroves, the Head of Upper School at The Oakridge School in Arlington, TX. I have never met him before or communicated with him but here is his message to me earlier tonight. The parents of Oakridge must be so proud to have this man teaching their sons and daughters.”
Reeves says he continues to be amazed that people who should know better vent anger online, in ways they later regret.
“One-hundred twenty-five years ago, the social media of that day was letters to the editor,” says Reeves. “And Mark Twain wrote that you’re never going to win an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel… and you’re never going to win an argument with someone who has 3/4s of a million Twitter followers! Once you send him a message, whether it’s a so called direct message or public message, he then owns that message and controls that message, which means he also controls you and your image—and whoever you’re associated with, including your employers.”
In his letter to parents and the community earlier in the day, Head of School Jon Kellam wrote, “The school has received negative attention on social media due to an employee’s personal comment during non-work hours. Our team is looking into it, and I will communicate with you again when I have more information.”
By then the Twitterverse was on fire—with one poster writing, “The 1st amendment allows us to say whatever we wish but it does not protect us from the consequences of what we say.”
“I don’t know Mr. Groves, I don’t know this school, but that’s just the point: I don’t know him. What I know about him and by extension what I know about his institution, it surrounds this tweet. Again, it may not be right. But, it is reality,” said Reeves.
CBS 11 reached out to Mr. Groves and Oakridge School leadership today requesting comment, but received no response. As of late afternoon, Avenatti confirmed he had received neither an apology nor any contact with school staff.