DUBLIN, Ohio (WCMH) — A conversation has erupted after the Dublin City Schools Board met Monday night addressing some recent events.
Some administrators, principals and teachers posted a photo on social media last week welcoming the students back to school. On their matching t-shirts were phrases like “Black Lives Matter,” “Love is Love,” and “Science is Real.”
Shortly after, a conversation continued regarding the shirts with most people on social media applauding the effort, some questioning the meaning, and how some of the phrases would be interpreted. On Monday night, the matter was brought up at the Dublin School Board Meeting.
“It’s easy to forget how impactful that message was in the wake of all of the backlash and controversy that it causes,” noted a Dublin Scioto High School student. “I hope they know that message was needed and a lot of students loved hearing that.”
Superintended Todd Hoadley first addressed a current policy about how to handle controversial issues. He stated that, “They help us not to be emotional, but react with good, sound judgement and crucial judgement. These controversial issues should be related to the structural goals of the study. Overall, our teachers do an excellent job during a time of controversial issues,” noted Hoadley. “Our personal opinions are not meant to bring students to a single conclusion.”
Hoadley sent an email out to all staff regarding the current policies and reiterating their meaning.
In the email, he wrote, in part:
“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.
“The shirt in and of itself is wonderful, the intent is wonderful,” Hoadley said. “Words have meaning, phrases have meaning, but sometimes they have different meaning to different people based on their experiences and different context.”
In the email, he outlined the policy and explained what it means.
“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.”
Parents argue that following a policy and definition that is nearly 18 years old doesn’t make sense, especially in this current climate.
“If they will continue to point back to this policy as the reason why they cannot support some, I think, basic human rights, then yes, that policy needs to be revisited,” expressed Amanda Covey, parent of three. Other parents explaining they will attend and participate in more meetings.
“Most can hopefully understand there can be two sides of an issue but also a right and wrong,” said Covey “I think that change won’t happen unless everyone steps up and makes an effort.”
Multiple teachers reached out to comment but all wanted to stay anonymous. One said that this is a step backward in the district.
“Let me begin with I am a proud Dublin City School teacher. I chose to work in Dublin not only for the state-of-the-art education it provides but most importantly, for the diversity within our walls. With all of this said, I was struck with embarrassment, anger, confusion, and sadness when I opened my inbox to an email from my superintendent. Statistics show students need one trusted adult. If a T-shirt that says ‘Love is Love, Black lives matter, Women’s rights matter, or science is real’ makes my students feel seen and loved within these walls, then I will wear it every day. These students have had the most traumatic summer of their lives, they have had heavy conversations in their homes. It’s my job to keep these students safe and protect their futures.”
One small action is causing a ripple effect and a large-scale conversation about inclusivity, controversy and social justice.
When asked for comment, school board public information officer Doug Baker responded, “As a District, we understand Dublin Scioto administrators and staff had only the best of intentions regarding wearing the t-shirts in an effort to welcome their students back to the building. When it comes to controversial issues, staff operates under the regulations laid out in Board policy.”
He went on to say the district will be delivering a report on its action steps regarding social justice at the Sept. 28 board meeting. These include the formation of an equity and inclusion district planning team, formation of a district equity and inclusion team, social studies phase one curriculum review, formation of a parent curriculum team, and professional development for staff regarding social justice.