California school allegedly throws away student projects on Black Lives Matter

Written by on November 24, 2019

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Marina Pitofsky

A Sacramento-area school district allegedly threw away students’ projects on the Black Lives Matter movement, calling the work too political and inappropriate, according to a new letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

A teacher at Del Paso Manor Elementary School identified as Mr. Madden, assigned a project in September allowing students to create art about causes students at San Juan Unified School District care about and “something they wanted to see change in their school,” according to the Thursday letter addressed to Kent Kern, the school district’s superintendent.

The assignment followed a lesson plan delivered by a parent volunteer titled “Art can manifest in activism – can manifest in our communities and school.” The parent reportedly addressed immigration and housing rights, reforming financial aid, pay equity, animal rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the letter.

Four students then created posters in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Madden allegedly threw the posters away and made the students do the assignment over again. He also allegedly banned the parent volunteer from returning to the class.

He also reportedly asked the volunteer “whether students were getting shot at the school and demanded answers regarding why a presentation on Black Lives Matter was relevant to Del Paso Manor Elementary.”

The school’s principal “backed Mr. Madden by irrationally stating that Black Lives Matter lessons are political statements and therefore off limits for public display,” the ACLU letter states.

The letter states that posters and speech about Black Lives Matter are protected speech under California law for the student and the parent volunteer, and the school cannot “single out” the projects. It also states that the school district removing the art is “an impermissible viewpoint restriction.”

The letter requests that the school district issue a public apology, allow the parent volunteer to continue volunteering at the school and let the students “hang the Black Lives Matter posters up during the Spring Art Night (if the students want to remake them) that has a Black Lives Matter theme.” It also suggest cultural and sensitivity training for staff and parent engagement training.

The school district apologized in a statement, NBC News reported.

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California school allegedly throws away student projects on Black Lives Matter

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A Sacramento-area school district allegedly threw away students’ projects on the Black Lives Matter movement, calling the work too political and inappropriate, according to a new letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

a person holding a sign: California school allegedly throws away student projects on Black Lives Matter

© Getty Images California school allegedly throws away student projects on Black Lives Matter

A teacher at Del Paso Manor Elementary School identified as Mr. Madden, assigned a project in September allowing students to create art about causes students at San Juan Unified School District care about and “something they wanted to see change in their school,” according to the Thursday letter addressed to Kent Kern, the school district’s superintendent.

The assignment followed a lesson plan delivered by a parent volunteer titled “Art can manifest in activism – can manifest in our communities and school.” The parent reportedly addressed immigration and housing rights, reforming financial aid, pay equity, animal rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the letter.

Four students then created posters in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Madden allegedly threw the posters away and made the students do the assignment over again. He also allegedly banned the parent volunteer from returning to the class.

He also reportedly asked the volunteer “whether students were getting shot at the school and demanded answers regarding why a presentation on Black Lives Matter was relevant to Del Paso Manor Elementary.”

The school’s principal “backed Mr. Madden by irrationally stating that Black Lives Matter lessons are political statements and therefore off limits for public display,” the ACLU letter states.

The letter states that posters and speech about Black Lives Matter are protected speech under California law for the student and the parent volunteer, and the school cannot “single out” the projects. It also states that the school district removing the art is “an impermissible viewpoint restriction.”

The letter requests that the school district issue a public apology, allow the parent volunteer to continue volunteering at the school and let the students “hang the Black Lives Matter posters up during the Spring Art Night (if the students want to remake them) that has a Black Lives Matter theme.” It also suggest cultural and sensitivity training for staff and parent engagement training.

The school district apologized in a statement, NBC News reported.

“It is inconsistent with our values and never our intent or desire for any student to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome to discuss issues that are important to them,” the district said in the statement. “We sincerely apologize if this experience made any student feel such discomfort. Censoring a student’s assigned work because of its content would not be acceptable.”


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