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June resolutions passed by Board of Ed in June/9-14 Dr. Hoadley Email to Staff Regarding Controversial Issues/9-29 Statement from Dr. Hoadley

June resolutions passed by the Board of Education regarding social justice.

Sept. 29 Statement from Dr. Hoadley

Imagine two students on a school playground. Each approaches a number — a single digit — that someone else had chalked onto the asphalt earlier in the recess. “That’s a six,” the first one says, proud of having recently learned her numbers. Standing directly across from her with the number in between them, her classmate disagrees. “No, I know my numbers.  That’s a nine.”

“Wrong,” the first student says. “You must be crazy. That’s a six.”

“You’re the one who’s crazy! It’s a nine.”

We all know that their respective answers are both correct and incorrect, depending on the perspective from which they view the number. They both believe they are correct and that the other is mistaken. 

It’s a simple story about school children but it draws attention to issues going on with so many adults in our country.  Well-meaning people looking at issues from their own life or values perspective see issues or slogans differently. 

These disputes also exist in and around Dublin City Schools.  Recently, a few teachers wore T-shirts to school that had slogans or sayings on them that people viewed differently, again, based upon their own experiences.

Who is right?  It’s not always possible to say when you are talking about a slogan that by definition eliminates context and nuance.  Anything that could arguably be considered political is then exacerbated by the current election season.

Here in Dublin City Schools we are committed to providing our children world class instruction using the curriculum required and approved by the State of Ohio and our own elected Board of Education.  Other than the classroom discussions that illuminate the material, we’re not here to be a debating society or an extension of the culture war or the political debates. We know that much of the community is divided over these disputes and we simply seek to give our students a safe harbor from those choppy seas. 

You heard tonight from our Equity Committee and they have thoughtful plans for our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts going forward..  Let me be clear, there is always work to be done.  It is extremely important work.  And it is work that we are committed to. 

But in case there is any question on where we stand, here at Dublin City Schools we will vigorously enforce our policies against discriminatory harassment and protect all students and staff from harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and transgender identity), disability, age, religion, ancestry, and genetic information. 

Long before these current controversies, our Board of Education adopted policies on controversial statements and political activities. When the issue of the teachers’ T-shirts arose, we relied on those policies and reminded our staff about them. 

While there are tens of thousands of residents and taxpayers in our district, a few dozen have come forward by email and social media and claimed that the sayings on the T-shirts aren’t in any way controversial or political. But, unlike the Board members and myself, they weren’t exposed to the wide range of feedback and opinions we received from emails, social media, telephone, and in person responses. Many in the Dublin community did find the statements to be controversial or political. Much like the two students looking at the same number, each side thought the other wrong. 

I’m not an elected official and I don’t use my platform as Superintendent to advance my personal opinions. At a recent meeting, when I repeated the objections of some in the community, some others came forward further aggrieved. They claimed that simply pointing out that other people find the statements on the T-shirts objectionable was a validation of those objections.  It is absolutely not and at our last meeting,  I prefaced my comments by saying that these were not the views of Dublin City Schools.

Unlike those who criticize us, school districts are bound by the First Amendment. If we violate the Constitution, it could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees. And it could send a message to some families and students that their values and viewpoints are not respected here.  I am of course talking about values and viewpoints that are responsible in that they would not violate our policies against harassment and discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court – in a ruling that Dublin City Schools by law must follow, once stated: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

In other words, there is no set of words or beliefs that government bodies like school districts can mandate. Dublin City Schools teaches the Constitution in our classrooms and we follow it in our actions. 

Many of you in the community have expressed your desire for Dublin City Schools to take a side.  But forcing school administrators to take sides in disputed issues doesn’t unite or heal us – it just deepens the divide. And it undermines our ability to provide our students with world class instruction, a well-rounded education, and to continuously improve in everything we do.

Equity and inclusion are a mainstay of our vision but so is tolerance for different points of view.  That’s another aspect to the Dublin Difference.

Sept. 14 - Dr. Hoadley email to staff

Dublin City School Board has approved policies in place that follow the law and seek to keep our employees from bringing non-school related political, controversial, or policy statements into the school environment. below is an email that went to all school employees reminding them of their responsibilities. In that email, you’ll also find links to the approved Board policies that we continue to enforce.

Hello everyone,

We all know it and feel it – many in our country and even here in Dublin are sharply divided over issues of politics, policy, and culture. Social media amplifies the anger and disconnect. These politically-charged feelings are likely to persist throughout our community going forward, particularly given that this is an election year.  We so much appreciate the efforts of our staff to make all of our students feel welcome this school year.   As we continue into the school year, we want to make sure that your welcoming messages do not get lost in political discourse.  To that end, please keep the following in mind as you consider your significant roles in the education of our Dublin students.

The mission of Dublin City Schools is to provide world class instruction to our students. As educational professionals, it is our responsibility to create an inclusionary philosophy of education promoting equity and access for all students regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, economic status, and/or learning styles – we must not share our opinions in attempt to bring about a single conclusion to which all students must subscribe.   As Board Policy 2211 (Multicultural/Inclusionary Education) states, Dublin City Schools will promote inclusion, acceptance, understanding, cooperation, and appreciation of diverse groups of people. That includes people who hold opinions that disagree with ours.

We ask that you please review and reflect on Board Policy 2240 and Administrative Guideline 3231A, addressing staff members’ responsibilities regarding controversial issues and participation in political activities.  As you review these policies, note these important concepts that we specifically call on you to respect and follow:

  • Non School related activities, including political activities, do not contribute to a positive learning climate. Therefore, such activities are not appropriate within the school setting.
  • Unless done as part of an approved teaching unit, staff may not display non school related political or campaign material that supports or opposes candidates, issues, or a particular point of view within the schools or on school-owned or occupied property. This includes, by way of example, posters, buttons, and clothing.
  • All of us are prohibited from engaging in any activities that support or oppose candidates, issues, or a particular point of view during working hours.
  • Controversial issues may be introduced when related to the instructional goals of the course of study and level of maturity of the students.
  • When controversial issues are appropriately introduced, their use should be to encourage open-mindedness and be in a spirit of scholarly inquiry and not to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.

Some people might claim that a particular stance or sentiment “isn’t political or controversial” and therefore must be permitted. Another person may claim the opposite. One person’s belief of what is or is not political or controversial is not the standard our District uses to resolve these questions. Rather, we rely on the policies noted above, which have been approved by our elected leaders and address these difficult issues with a sense of nuance and responsibility that is all too often lacking in modern discourse.

Much of the world outside our schools is angry and spoiling for an argument. We want Dublin City Schools to be a haven from that anger, vehemence, and lack of civility. Our goal is to help our students identify important issues, explore fully and fairly all sides of an issue, weigh carefully the values and factors involved, and develop techniques for formulating and evaluating positions, all while respecting one another.  Engaging in this enlightened dialogue is the Dublin Difference.  

Thank you for your diligence during this period of heightened political activity. We appreciate your commitment to our mission. If you have any questions about the policies and guidelines above, please have a conversation with your building principal. 

Yours in the service to children,

Todd F. Hoadley, Ph. D.

Dublin City Schools