To protect students and staff from controversy, the Lead-Deadwood school board is giving first reading this afternoon (Tuesday, May 10, 4 p.m. MDT, high school cafeteria) to the following draft policy:
LDSD Policy on Classroom Displays and Decorations
Materials and decorations displayed by school employees on district property will not represent any controversial subject matter or political or religious messages. Such materials include, but are not limited to signs, posters, fliers, banners, flags, or decorations, including images, symbols or text.
Neither the United States flag nor the flag of any state of the Union, in an unaltered form, are considered controversial for the purposes of this policy.
Materials, symbols, etc. that are temporarily displayed in the classroom or other instructional areas will be exempt from this policy as long as they are displayed as part of a lesson based on the approved curriculum and content standards, and as long as they are school appropriate, grade level appropriate, relevant and significant to the applicable lesson. This clause shall in no way exempt the employee or the school district from any laws or policies prohibiting the teaching of divisive concepts.
Materials displayed on school property can be reasonably construed as endorsed or permitted by the district and may be removed by the principal, superintendent, or designee if they are determined to be in violation of this policy.
Controversial materials include:
- Materials endorsing a candidate, platform, position, political party, or slogan
- Concepts, images, slogans, or phrases that have appeared in the media and have been associated with controversy or a movement or cause
- Concepts, images, slogans, or phrases that a reasonable person would deem offensive, obscene, or inflammatory
If an employee feels that this policy is being unfairly enforced, the LDSD staff grievance procedure will serve as the appeal process. If a district employee, student, or patron wishes to report a suspected violation of this policy, they must follow this procedure. Report to the building principal, and the building principal will make a determination within 5 school days whether the object in question is in violation of the policy. At that point the building principal will either have the employee remove the object or notify the employee that a complaint has been made and that the object in question does not violate this policy. The building principal will report back to the complainant on the status of the complaint. An appeal of the principal’s determination by the complainant must be submitted in writing to the superintendent within 5 school days of notification of the building principal’s determination. The next level of appeal beyond the superintendent is to the board of education and must be submitted in writing within 10 days of notification of the superintendent’s determination [Lead-Deadwood school board, draft policy on classroom displays and decorations, updated 2022.05.06, in board agenda packet, 2022.05.10].
A teacher in the Lead-Deadwood system says this policy has been prompted by concern from multiple teachers who find this sign controversial and off-putting:
A former teacher in the district cites the following sign, taken from a suicide prevention course previously promoted by the South Dakota Department of Education and posted by a school counselor, as another target of the draft policy:
Safe spaces, respecting everyone’s rights, and welcoming all may thus be deemed too controversial by the Lead-Deadwood school board. Logically we may assume that declaring Lead-Deadwood schools dangerous spaces where some people’s rights are not respected and some people are not welcome is uncontroversial and, apparently, factual.
Also on this afternoon’s Lead-Deadwood school board agenda is a resolution prohibiting the advancement of “inherently divisive concepts”:
WHEREAS, the School District is appreciative of the current debate in society over what may or may not constitute the advancement of certain ideas and concepts that may be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
AND WHEREAS, the School District considers it prudent to adopt a policy prohibiting the advancement of “inherently divisive concepts”.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that no administrator, teacher, or employee of the Lead-Deadwood District shall take or support any action directed towards the students of the district that advance “inherently divisive concepts” including, but not limited to the following concepts:
(i) that one race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior to another race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin;
(ii) that an individual should be discriminated against or adversely treated solely or partly on the basis of his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity , or national origin;
(iii) that an individual’s moral character is inherently determined by his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin;
(iv) that an individual, by virtue of the individual ‘s race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;
(v) that an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, is responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin; or
(vi) that meritocracy or traits, such as a strong work ethic, are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex [Lead-Deadwood school board, draft resolution, agenda packet, 2022.05.10].
The six examples of “inherently divisive concepts” are copied verbatim from Governor Kristi Noem’s Executive Order 2022-02, which she issued one month ago under the false pretense of banning “critical race theory” from South Dakota’s classrooms. The six verboten concepts are also part of House Bill 1337, the thought-control bill the Governor was unable to push through the Legislature this Session.
The policy banning rainbows and Black Lives Matter posters and the resolution banning divisive concepts are toward the bottom of the board’s agenda. Meeting starts this afternoon at 4 p.m. Mountain in the Lead-Deadwood high school cafeteria.