VA school that plans to punish dissenters says it won't
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Bob Kellogg, Billy Davis (OneNewsNow.com)
A public school district in Virginia is not only embracing far-left racial beliefs such as critical race theory but is promising to punish anyone on its payroll who fails to do so, too.
In an Oct. 2 story, The Washington Free Beacon reported Loundon County Public Schools plans to require that employees’ speech and actions align with a “commitment to action-oriented equity practices” or risk “disciplinary action” for failing to do so.
Scott Ziegler, an assistant superintendent, introduced the draft policy at a Sept. 22 school board meeting, a local newspaper reported, but the proposal has gotten national attention after conservative news outlets reported on the Orwellian demand for compliance over hot-button issues such as “systemic racism” and critical race theory.
In particular, the Beacon reported on the proposed “professional conduct” policy:
The code briefly acknowledges employees have a First Amendment right to engage in protected speech, but says that right "may be outweighed" by the school district's interest in "promoting internal … and external community harmony and peace" as well as "class equity, racial equity, and the goal to root out systemic racism.
Reacting to the proposal, Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver compares the school district policy to a Marxist regime that demands obedience.
"This is what happens when you have a Marxist ideology that ultimately takes over political power,” he tells OneNewsNow. “It happens in the school districts. It happens on the state level. It can happen on a national level."
Before the proposal began making headlines, Ziegler told school board members last month he was attempting to align the proposal with the views of Eric Williams, the school district superintendent. Williams has introduced a Comprehensive Equality Plan and a plan to “combat” systemic racism for the school district, The Loundon Times-Mirror reported.
According to the local newspaper, Zeigler addressed the First Amendment issue, too, in front of the school board.
“In most cases, employee speech is protected, but in the employer-employee relationship, not all speech is protected by the First Amendment,” Ziegler said, according to the Times-Mirror. “In the private sector speech is not protected, but because we are in the government sector, we do a test when we are deciding whether or not speech can be limited and falls under this policy.”
Responding to criticism of the proposal, the assistant superintendent told the newspaper the school district is not attempting to limit employees’ rights to disagree with the school’s beliefs.
“There are incidents when a government agency can restrict the speech of its employees, and that’s not what we’re trying to do here at all,” he said. “Public employees have the right to free speech as private citizens and to criticize the bodies that they work for.”
Elsewhere in the same story, however, Zeigler told the school board that school district staff will “analyze” reports of speech or conduct that have the potential to disrupt the school or work environment, he added.
According to the Free Beacon, which reviewed the proposal, it states that school district employees have a "duty" to report speech code violations committed by co-workers.
The president of the teachers' union told the Beacon teachers were concerned about the speech code "inhibiting" the right to free expression.
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