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Dear XXX,

I am concerned about the introduction of Critical Race Theory (CRT) into the SAU41 Hollis-Brookline school system. CRT is a theory that invites discrimination into the classroom and divides individuals based off of their race. This is antithetical to the teachings of Martin Luther King and is not what we should be teaching our children. Specifically, I am concerned about the following issues:

1. 

2. 

3. 

I encourage you to consider this feedback and take steps to ensure CRT is not taught as a legitimate theory in our schools.

Sincerely,

XXX

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Here is the Proposed Political Neutrality / No Indoctrination revision to the school’s Teacher Academic Freedom policy

Proposed ACADEMIC FREEDOM Policy for Hollis School District (COOP HB)

Instructors of Hollis Schools are granted academic freedom to execute their duties in compliance with the curriculum and policies of the Hollis School district. The term instructor includes teachers, assistant teachers, substitute teachers, coaches and paraeducators. Academic Freedom includes an individual instructor’s right to select course materials, participate in and guide discussions and to select topics and content in accordance with approved curriculum and in accordance with this and other school policies.  It also includes the right to make assignments relevant to approved curriculum and assess student performance in approved curriculum and to act in accordance with this and other school policies.

It is the policy of the Hollis School Board that an instructor shall avoid discussions or expressions in regard to political, social and religious values or issues unless they relate directly to the approved curriculum and are in compliance with this and other school policies.  Discussions or presentations related to the previously described values or issues shall be permitted provided that the total presentation is balanced and that they pertain to the approved curriculum. Statements related to political social and religious values or issues or current events should be avoided unless they relate to approved curriculum in which case instructors should at all times be  factual, exercise appropriate restraint, show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that the teacher, administrator or other employee is not an institutional spokesperson.

An Instructor is limited to the academic freedom afforded by this policy whenever discharging their duties, including in the classroom while discussing his/her assigned subject matter An instructor or employee shall limit him/herself to comments that are directly related to the curriculum established by the  School Board. This limitation applies to speech and the components of academic freedom that is ordinarily within the scope of the instructor’s duty.

District employees do not have privileged status by virtue of their positions to make statements that are libelous, slanderous, or that violate the civil rights of others. The academic freedom granted by this policy extends only to speech that is ordinarily within the scope of the employee’s duty.  District employees shall not use their professional contacts with students to further their own political aims or those of any individual or group. They shall not use district resources to advocate or promote for political or social values or issues and they shall not advocate or promote for political or social values during the discharge of their duties. District employees shall not encourage or direct student advocacy for any particular issue or position. 

Each teacher, administrator, or other employee recognizes and accepts his/her obligation to support the goals of education and to foster respect for the heritage of democratic values. 

References:

Supreme Court cases 

Garcetti v. Ceballos

On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court and held that “when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.”  

Lane v. Franks

Garcetti does not transform citizen speech into employee speech simply because the speech involves subject matter acquired in the course of employment. The crucial component of Garcetti then, is, whether the speech “is itself ordinarily within the scope of an employee’s duties, not whether it merely concerns those duties.” 

Academic Freedom best practice:

https://www.oah.org/about/governance/policies/academic-freedom-guidelines-and-best-practices/

Academic freedom includes the individual instructor’s right to select course materials and content, pedagogy, make assignments and assess student performance. These should be germane to the subject matter.