[lg policy] Anoka-Hennepin schools will rework proposed controversial-topics policy for staff

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 19 20:59:56 UTC 2012

Anoka-Hennepin schools will rework proposed controversial-topics
policy for staff

By Sarah Horner
shorner at pioneerpress.com
Updated: 01/18/2012 08:08:44 PM CST

After community members packed two school board meetings to voice
objections, the Anoka-Hennepin school board announced plans Wednesday
to rework a proposed policy that would have told teachers how to
handle controversial topics in class discussions.

The board will reveal the new language at its meeting Monday, said
Mary Olson, a spokeswoman for the district. The district announced
plans in early December to rescind its policy on sexual orientation
and replace it with a new one that would govern all controversial
topics, from gay marriage to immigration reform. The sexual
orientation curriculum policy, which is being targeted in two lawsuits
pending against the district, singled out gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender issues.

The policy was blamed by some in the community for creating an
anti-gay environment in district schools. Community members on both
sides of the political aisle took issue with the change. Conservatives
said they worried it didn't go far enough to protect district schools
from a potential onslaught of gay propaganda, while those on the other
side said it would label gay students and staff members as

Both sides also said the new language was confusing and vague.

The district's teachers union voted last week to oppose the
controversial-topics policy and the policy on sexual orientation.

The board had tentatively planned to take a vote on the
controversial-topics policy Monday, but now will instead introduce a
reworked version, said board member John Hoffman.

"We had a lot of people saying it was too vague, or too confusing or
we should keep the sexual orientation curriculum policy or we
shouldn't have any policy at all," Hoffman said. "This board is going
to do it right and take the necessary time to go back and make sure we
get this right." Board members will work through the weekend to
clarify the latest policy, to be called the Respectful Learning
Environment Curriculum Policy. Feedback received from the public in
the past several weeks will be used to help craft it, the district

The heart of the new version isn't expected to change much from the
one on controversial topics, but will include more explanation about
the board's intent, said board Chair Tom Heidemann.

"I think it is going to be a fairly substantial rewrite to clean up
the language, but we want to make the intent of what we are trying to
accomplish more clear, and hopefully with that, we will gain more
support," he said.

The new language will be released Monday.


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