Signage and Materials Limited in Lead-Deadwood School District | Local

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Faculty and staff will be restricted in classroom presentations and decorations in the Lead-Deadwood School District.

The board of education unanimously approved a revised policy on class displays and decorations on Monday night. The policy limits materials and decorations on district property that might depict any “social agenda” or other controversial subject, including political or religious messages.

Controversial materials may include endorsements of candidates, platforms, positions, political parties, or slogans; concepts, images, slogans or phrases which have appeared in the media and which have been associated with a controversy or movement or cause; and concepts, images, slogans or phrases that a reasonable person would find offensive, obscene or inflammatory.

The revised policy allows school counselors to post signs in the office that meet American School Counselor Association standards and recommendations, but not in classrooms. The policy was first presented to the board in May after some educators took issue with the safe space signs that had rainbow coloring.

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The rainbow signs showed support and respect for LGBTQ students and let students know that classrooms were non-judgmental places.

The safe-place signs for LGBTQ students were reviewed by a fellow teacher at Lead-Deadwood, who claimed the signs were indicative of “social drama” and “political propaganda” in schools.

Lead-Deadwood Superintendent Dr Erik Person said the problem with the panels was “out of proportion”. He said one of the most significant issues that has been raised throughout the policy discussion is how First Amendment rights are impacted in public schools.

The person said the policy is to determine where that line is. He said the courts have not ruled on this particular issue, but it has been established that teachers have First Amendment rights in their classrooms — but there are reasonable limits.

“We tried to take the approach in the absence of a policy on this particular issue to say, ‘OK, the signs don’t seem that important, but let’s not have a problem, let’s not grow it to out of here,'” he said. “It wasn’t enough for some people.”

The person said the policy will act as guidelines for the materials and is not intended to value or devalue groups of people.

“It’s just to give us a tool to sort that out and figure out what will be allowed,” he said. “A good policy has a set of guidelines rather than specifics, because as soon as you start naming specific things, not only are you discriminating by point of view, but you’re also going to miss something.”

The person said he heard throughout the policy discussion from both sides, those for and those against, that classrooms should be a safe space for all children. He said he believes educators in the district are on board, but it’s become clear there’s still work to be done there.

“It’s a good reminder that if we want to say that every classroom should be a safe space, then we have to mean it and we have to move forward aggressively whether we have a paper sign or not.” , did he declare.

In response to a public comment asking for Bible verses and scriptures on teachers’ email signatures, Person said the policy would also limit that use.

Council President Suzanne Rogers said she was disappointed the district had come to the point of needing the policy because it was just a sign with the intention of helping a group of high-risk children that has become a controversy. She said she understood why, but wished it wasn’t.

“At first I thought we didn’t need a policy because I know all of our staff have always had the best interests of all of our students in their hearts, and they will do whatever they can to n ‘any student, but I’m afraid we’ve opened Pandora’s box,” Rogers said. “We can’t go back unless we create a policy with some structure.”

The revised policy also allows the administration to determine whether posting “controversial topics” will elicit strong negative reactions from “reasonable-minded people” in order to determine whether the materials should be removed.

According to the policy, the flag of the United States nor any other state flag in an unchanged form is considered controversial for the purposes of the policy. Materials, symbols, or other objects temporarily displayed in the classroom or other teaching areas are exempt from the policy as long as they are used as part of a lesson based on the approved curriculum and standards of content, and appropriate to the school and grade level. The clause does not exempt employees or the District from any law or policy prohibiting the teaching of divisive concepts.

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at [email protected]

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