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Statement regarding resignation of NHS teacher
NORMAN — After the first day of school Friday, Aug. 19, a concerned parent reached out to us about a potential issue regarding Oklahoma HB 1775. The teacher had, during class time, made personal political statements and used their classroom to make a political display expressing those opinions.
As soon as they were available, we met with the teacher to address the concern and expected them to return to class as normal. At no point was the teacher ever terminated, suspended or placed on administrative leave. Ultimately, the teacher chose to resign.
Like many educators the teacher has concerns regarding censorship and book removal by the Oklahoma state legislature. However, as has always been our expectation, we want our classrooms to be places where ALL students feel welcome. Politics is impossible to escape. It is woven through history, literature and everyday life, but as educators we have a duty to teach without expressing our own partisan opinions. It is our goal to teach students to think critically, not to tell them what to think. Additionally, ensuring appropriate materials in our classrooms is not new and is a responsibility educators have always had to protect our students.
In regards to books, given the serious legal consequences for teachers and districts related to Oklahoma HB 1775, this year we placed a renewed emphasis on teachers and staff reviewing classroom resources.
Prior to the start of school a group made up of curriculum coordinators, teachers and principals worked to create and share guidance on how to review and evaluate classroom resources (Click here to view the Classroom Library guidance documents). Our goal was to inform and prepare our teachers and staff so that in the event a complaint arises, we can confidently defend a text or resource and its educational value, or proactively remove titles that do not meet our standards. Classroom libraries enrich our schools and we want our classrooms to be places where literacy thrives.
This recent legislation has been challenging for public school districts statewide. We have heard a great deal of concern from our educators and even parents about the consequences of HB 1775, as well as the vague and uncertain nature of its enforcement and lack of due process. Our intent from the beginning has been to provide support and information for teachers while continuing to deliver on our obligation to protect students and follow the law.
Parents who have any questions or concerns about HB 1775 or any other issues are strongly encouraged to reach out to their school principal or the district directly so we can work together to find answers and solutions.