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Q & A: Christian Educators members ask… 

The answers or opinions expressed in this article are not intended to render legal advice. The factual and legal issues in each circumstance must be considered and may require the advice of an attorney.

Two students have repeatedly caused destruction in my classroom and are consistently a safety issue. I have requested behavior modification strategy advice from my administrators, called parents, and written numerous discipline referrals, but I have not received any support. What should I do?
It sounds as if your administrators are not responding to your requests for help. You may want to take the following steps:
  1. Write an email or letter to your principal explaining what has happened in the past and your concerns for the future. Focus on district liability and student and staff safety as the major concerns.
  2. Email a draft to Christian Educators for review and possible edits before sending it to your building administrators.
  3. Ask other teachers to sign the letter to demonstrate solidarity. 
  4. Send copies to the direct supervisor of the administrators, including the superintendent.
  5. File a grievance for having to work in a hostile and unsafe workplace with the help of Christian Educators if the email or letter fails to prompt a response. 

I am a principal at a middle school. Before Christmas, I put up a bulletin board display that included a manger scene, a Scripture, and the star of David. A parent complained about my display, so I am going to have a meeting with him. What advice can you give me?
First of all, you have not broken any laws by recognizing the community’s traditions. However, as a government employee, you must remain neutral to religion. So, your position should be that you were recognizing the community’s traditions, not trying to promote any specific religion.  
When meeting with the parent, start by listening. Simply ask about his concerns without being defensive. If he says your display offended him, apologize for the offense and let him know that was not your intent. You can tell him that you were trying to reflect the traditions of the school district’s faith communities, not trying to promote any of them. You were under the impression that the district’s faiths were limited to Christianity and Judaism. Ask him what other faiths you missed. Let him know you will consider his input for next year.
If you do a similar display next year, I’d suggest adding some secular symbols as well…snowmen, snowflakes, maybe even a Santa, etc.

I was recently contacted by a lawyer about a deposition involving a young girl who is saying that her music teacher from years ago was inappropriate with her. I am named in the case as someone who might have known about the inappropriate actions. However, I am unaware of any inappropriate actions. How should I handle this deposition?
Since the district’s attorney will represent you and you are not being accused of anything, you are not at risk. Simply stay with your statement that you are unaware of any inappropriate actions. Most likely, the lawyers are fishing for information, hoping to develop a case. If you refuse to be deposed, you could be subpoenaed. So, it would be to the district’s benefit for you to cooperate.


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