Martha’s Vineyard school leaders are strongly condemning an Island resident for his vulgar outburst at an Oak Bluffs planning board meeting Thursday evening, apologizing to the community member the outburst was directed at and calling for the person who uttered the expletive to take responsibility for his actions.

“The comment was offensive, demeaning and misogynistic, and an affront to the community member, an insult to all who were in attendance and disprespectful to the planning board and the process our community put in place for allowing a thorough review of the project,” school leaders said in a statement issued Friday evening.

The statement was signed by regional high school committee chairman Amy Houghton, Vineyard schools superintendent Matthew D’Andrea, assistant superintendent Richard Smith and high school principal Sara Dingledy.

The brief, vulgar outburst occurred near the end of a planning board hearing held over Zoom on the school athletics field project Thursday night.

Susan Desmarais, an Oak Bluffs resident, had begun to testify against the project. Terry Donahue, a longtime vocal proponent of the turf fields project, could be heard directing a vulgar remark at Ms. Desmarais.

In the statement issued Friday, school leaders distanced themselves from Mr. Donahue, who was not named, and apologized to Ms. Desmarais, also not named.

“The school committee and school administration denounce the comment and want to express our apologies to the community member who was sharing her views. While the person who expressed the abhorrent language is not affiliated with, a spokesperson for, a consultant to, or otherwise engaged with the school system, he has been a vocal proponent of the project,” the statement said.

In a letter sent to the Gazette Sunday afternoon, Mr. Donahue apologized to Ms. Desmarais.

“I would like to publicly apologize to Susan Desmarais for the offense and hurt caused by my remarks during her statement at the March 31, 2022, Oak Bluffs planning board meeting,” Mr. Donahue wrote. “While I was unaware the mic was on, it does not take away from the egregious and demeaning nature of the remark. The responsibility for that statement is mine and mine alone, and one I have had to live with in the past days with the women in my life. I apologize and ask for both Ms. Desmarais’s forgiveness and that of the entire community.”

The exchange has served to cast another shadow across the $11 million athletic fields overhaul, which has grown bitterly divisive between groups of vocal proponents and opponents over the plan to use artificial turf on the main field.

The plan has been through exhaustive review by land use boards, first with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which approved the project last July. The project still needs a special permit from the Oak Bluffs planning board because it lies in the water resource planning overlay district in that town.

A planning board hearing opened last week and continued on Thursday night. Testimony from proponents was taken first, and took up most of the second hearing. Among other things student athletes and coaches turned out in force to advocate strongly for the turf field.

“I can say that the field that we currently use is basically unplayable,” former football player Zachary Smith told the board.

“I’ve pulled rocks out of my players’ bloody knees,” said Lisa Knight, former high school field hockey coach. “I am comforted because there is a solution, and it is before you right now,” she said.

Proponents also criticized the turf field opponents who have raised vocal concerns about groundwater contamination from the long-lasting chemical PFAS.

“They’re just creating fear,” Joe Mikos said. “I urge you to follow the science.”

Near the end of the hearing, planning board chairman Ewell Hopkins opened the floor for testimony from opponents, and Ms. Desmarais began to speak.

“Why are we still discussing the possibility of putting forever chemicals in our land?” she said. “Why are so many unwilling to stand up to big industry? . . . We, the MV community, are the ones with skin in the game.”

The hearing was continued to April 21 at 5 p.m. Testimony from opponents, which saw only a few minutes of time Thursday, will be taken.

Just before adjournment, planning board member Erik Albert lauded the young speakers for their participation.

“I’d like to thank the young people that came out,” he said. That’s the most I’ve seen at any of our meetings.”

Updated to include letter of apology from Mr. Donahue.