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School Board Trustee Steps Down After Miss Black Texas Dispute

COMMERCE (CBSDFW.COM) - A board member with the Commerce Independent School District stepped down Tuesday morning in the wake of the arrest of a former Miss Black Texas. Elected official Michael Beane was involved in a dispute with 23-year-old college student Carmen Ponder last month.

Ponder had initially claimed that Chief Kerry Crews with the Commerce Police Department was the white driver who allegedly made racist and sexist comments to her after a traffic-related dispute. But authorities later determined that the confrontation involved another white man who was teaching his daughter how to drive. That man was Beane.

The incident resulted in Ponder being taken into custody in a Walmart parking lot for evading arrest. She allegedly started to walk away from the scene after being told to stay. The pageant winner added that she was asked to apologize to Crews, but she refused. She spent a night in the Hunt County Jail. Charges against her have since been dropped.

Ponder was named Miss Black Texas in 2016. She is now a student at Texas A&M University-Commerce and an intern at the Hunt County District Attorney's Office.

After a special school board meeting on Tuesday morning, Beane denied making any racial remarks toward Ponder. However, he said, his family has been receiving threats since the May 20 incident. Due to the overwhelming amount of attention that the situation has received, Beane explained, he decided that it was time to step down from his role as a school board member.

"I'd like to make clear that at no point in this whole scenario did anyone but Miss Ponder make any racial claims. I did not call her anything racial at any point in time," Beane said on Tuesday morning. "I did say a couple curse words at her, but nothing racial at all."

Beane said that Ponder laughed while driving him and his daughter off of the road. Beane called 911 to report the incident, but it had "de-escalated" by the time that he noticed Crews in the Walmart parking lot. Crews was off-duty and shopping when the confrontation actually took place.

Crews was walking out of the Walmart as Beane was walking in, and the two men spoke casually for a bit -- about the incident and unrelated matters, Beane explained. Beane saw Ponder exit the store and pointed her out to Crews. The chief then tried to approach Ponder and the situation became tense.

The police chief was cleared of all wrongdoing, but still resigned from his position on Monday. "It's unfortunate," Beane said on Tuesday. "In my opinion, Kerry Crews did nothing wrong, and I think it's a shame that he had to step down. But he's in the exact same situation I am."

Beane followed. He stated, "I informed the school board just now as we went back that I will be resigning from school board, effective today, not because I did anything wrong, but because we don't need to be held hostage. Commerce ISD does not need to have this media attention."

While speaking on Tuesday, Beane also lamented the fact that "Facebook court's in session," and the public would continue to judge him based on the reports of one incident. "It doesn't matter what anybody else says or does," he said. "It doesn't matter what I've done in the past. This is all skewed now to something else, and it just puts too much of a burden on our district."

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