Teachers Fired For Pro Trump Remarks? Superintendent Green Responds

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

Cross Keys High School teachers, Diane Clark and Susan Petre, resigned “in lieu of termination,” district officials said. Both teachers were removed from their classrooms on Nov. 10 pending investigations into claims they made statements about illegal immigrants, tying it in to Donald Trump’s presidential election.
DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Stephen Green issued a statement in February saying, “Our schools will be safe places for learning and teaching. We will not tolerate any form of bullying or discrimination … on or off District property … that interferes with learning or the rights of others.”
Since then, some news outlets have taken this quote and run with it …

Employees of a Georgia school district known for its diversity of refugees and migrants – legal and illegal – are being told not to express themselves on or off campus if their views on immigration line up with those of President Donald Trump. If their words are considered not “welcoming” of refugees and migrants, they will face investigation and possible termination.

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Stephen Green issued a warning to teachers in the suburban Georgia County to refrain from promoting President Trump’s policies on border security and legal immigration. Since the warning was issued two teachers were reportedly forced to resign.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby with the Reporter Newspaper wrote a good piece on the school district’s investigation, CROSS KEYS TEACHERS LEAVE AFTER DSPUTED CLAIMS OF TRUMP-INSPIRED THREATS.

DeKalb Schools has released its investigative report detailing allegations that the teachers, Diane Clark and Susan Petre, threatened students with deportation. According to memos from the DeKalb schools Office of Legal Affairs, both teachers were given the choice to leave their jobs or be fired.
According to the investigation a parent called the DeKalb school’s superintendent’s office and said her son told her that Clark told students if they continued to misbehave in class “she would be making a call to the Department of Immigration.”
Clark said she is consulting a lawyer. In the DeKalb Schools report, she denied threatening anyone and said she actually spoke in support of students.
A teacher said on the day after the election one of Petre’s students told her that Petre told her class that their parents are to blame for the “problems and fears” students have about deportations and also that it was their parents fault for deportation fears because their parents brought children illegally to the U.S.
Petre said in the interview she told students that undocumented people break the law by moving to the U.S., but she also told her students she would always advocate for them. “What might have been misinterpreted was that I also stated we are a nation of laws and that undocumented people who came here broke the law,” Petre wrote in a statement to the principal.
Petre said that telling her students she was voting for Trump was a mistake. Petre also said she “never, ever threatened anyone with deportation. I said only criminals should be deported, period.”
Continue reading complete article here >>

Superintendent Stephen Green

Dr. Stephen Green
CEO & Superintendent, DeKalb County School District

A conservative news and opinion website and online news aggregator has falsely reported that DeKalb County School District employees have been fired for their political views. It is important to know that this outlet never contacted the District or me to discuss the facts.
The article inaccurately represents the voluntary departure of three school district employees, two teachers and one nurse. These former employees had been investigated by our school system for comments suggesting DeKalb students with immigrant backgrounds faced deportation. Unfortunately, these comments were publicly available to students and families and negatively impacted the employees’ effectiveness in their schools.
These former employees received full due process of law and school board regulations after allegations came to light of their inappropriate comments and actions toward students.
Following fair and thorough school district investigations by the appropriate school principals, those principals and the regional superintendent of these employees unanimously recommended termination. All three employees provided written/oral comments and were afforded a full chance to rebut allegations and challenge any recommendations. All three voluntarily left the system without termination.
We are a public education system. We receive public tax funding. We are required by federal and state authority to educate every student who comes into our system. Students must only provide information such as proof of residency, immunization records, and proof of age … not green cards or immigration status.
We fully respect the free speech and all other constitutional rights of our employees, but actions by DeKalb staff members that interfere with their ability to effectively perform their jobs or interfere with our students’ rights to receive education are simply not acceptable.
We value all students, no matter their birth homes or heritages. We love them, and we respect what their presence here says about the goodness and generosity of America. Our diversity is our strength.
We strongly support the diversity of our school system, and we greatly value our role in supporting our immigrant population through the benefits of quality education. This is a core belief. We will not tolerate any form of bullying or discrimination … on or off district property … that interferes with employees’ ability to effectively perform their jobs or that interferes with learning and the rights of others.

105 responses to “Teachers Fired For Pro Trump Remarks? Superintendent Green Responds

  1. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    I know this is feeding a tangent but I can’t resist. Regarding CCHS and the backlash on Rebekah’s article, we are acting like there isn’t a long and well-established history here. Just as Bill recognized and celebrates the efforts of Dr. Sauce and team I regularly do the same. And it is deserved. The fact is, though, that they are responding to actual challenges not imagined ones.
    The amount of disdain and bigotry directed at these kids is well documented for at least two decades. The map itself tells the story and no one disputes that fact. It’s shameful and embarrassing. We hear it on this blog, we hear it in everyday conversations, we hear it in local, regional and now even national debates. I’ve heard it for ten years locally in my social network in Chamblee, Dunwoody, and Brookhaven even in “polite” company. And we doubt it still?
    Last Friday’s soccer match at North DeKalb Stadium is a microcosm of the problem, I think. After the very physical and hotly contested match that resulted in a CK victory (woot!), 3-2, one CCHS player decided to extend his personal hospitality to the CK squad by inviting them to go back to their own country in very angry terms. Luckily, the CCHS coach immediately and aggressively “coached” the young man out of more trouble. There was also an obligatory patriotic chant of “Trump, Trump” from a few in the stands. Does this incident make CCHS futbol squad bigoted? Of course not. The boy’s coach and most of his squad were embarrassed by the conduct and outburst.
    But we have to realize that when such hateful comments are made it leaves an impression with those on the receiving end of the hate and how easy it is to generalize about the source. I have been a booster of our futbol programs for a long time and have heard and seen personally the ongoing hate spewed at them on and off the field wherever they go. When going to certain “away” venues, the coaches make sure the players immediately leave the pitch and go quickly to the buses to avoid trouble. Some private schools were notorious hosts to the most vicious race and ethnic-based taunting to the point that a coach refused to schedule them. This nonsense has led to many a red card and a couple of coach ejections. At some point we have to all recognize that such behavior is unacceptable and reject it in an unqualified manner and stop making excuses for it.
    I know CCHS is a great school full of great kids. It is also home to some pretty deep-seated bigotry. And why should we be surprised that this particular institution is free from what is common virtually everywhere else?

  2. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    … and before my favorite troll, Screwed, and others may jump in and libtard or snowflake me let me expand with this … it’s not all about “white” people. Get over yourselves. There is also apparently a recent incident where CCHS latino athletes were taunting Clarkston kids on a race or ethnic basis. Hate knows no boundaries folks. We should reject it in whatever form and wherever it occurs.

  3. Bill Armstrong

    Lynn – yes it was her choice to write & publish the article – just not her choice on how the system responded to it as opposed to the nurse or other cases. I don’t think it’s her to advocate on behalf of the nurse or the CK teachers. But perhaps I’m reading more into what your are saying. I certainly agree the system has a track record of being inconsistent.
    As for social media – while it is true that the system spells out what it has jurisdiction over, whether they really do, or can really prove it? not so clear. And are they willing to go to court for it trying to claim jurisdiction, although they also risk potential liability for not enforcing it. If clearly established during school hours &/or school networks &/or on bus & other activities, I think they normally have a clear case. If they can even prove that – not always as easy as it might sound.
    But while they do expressly give themselves jurisdiction over “cyberbullying” & I think clearly have it when truly established “at-school,” they essentially claim the have it potentially when not on campus: “off-campus when the behavior results in a disruption to the school environment” on page 66. But proving that “disruption” that is a subjective decision. And even when “on campus” – hard to tell. Unless you are taking screenshots & establishing datestamps much can be taken down or gone – like snapshat & other apps. Sure they could try to get those records from the providers – but that is very hard.
    And we all know much phone activity takes place off campus late at night. Much can be forwarded around multiple times, care taken to not have faces or voices on it, you hear of it being talked about by other kids who are following someone you aren’t, on & on, it’s just tough.
    And I say this because I sat in a hearing for bullying & the offender had done enough on campus & corroborated by other students to reach the threshold of triggering enforcement. We were arguing the “disruption” approach for some off-campus cyber. We had some screenshots of things clearly done off campus, forwarding was also involved. NOTE: We are very clear on rules & strategies with our kids on how to deal with this, including what not to even forward or discuss – they are told to show us everything (I think they do as a rule – but you never know for sure). In fact both my MS & HS have their phones taken at bedtime & reviewed nightly. Hey, privacy in that regard – another topic for parents, I think we are clear on where the line is.
    The screenshots we brought to the hearing, I think they considered them – we left print-offs of them, but if it was just on those alone – I’m not sure they would have acted with discipline.
    And as an attorney I get why. Schools are faced with trying to put rules in place, with good intentions & generally good results. But I’d say some might be aspirational, as the law is far from clear exactly what can be banned, actionable etc. Which gets to “are they willing to go to court with it?” Example, long suspension/expulsion for cyber-whatever, all off campus. Yes, I know there are stages of punishment, but especially the final straw? hard to say.
    Now I agree it could certainly be forward to other legal authorities = a fist fight walking home from school. Traditionally that’s considered a police problem. A cyber-attack of some sort, entirely off-campus without anything else under traditional bullying, in the bathroom, etc. I think they tend to back off. And as parents that’s how much teen social activity happens these days. Heck, many kids “date” in MS without ever seeing each other in person – except maybe passing in the hall.
    And like I said – we had enough “regular” proof, and I think the MS handled it appropriately. If I was an administrator provided a few snapchap screen shots – maybe even cleaned of faces, just that nothing at school, and it wasn’t fairly serious even in the victim’s eyes (yes, subjective) – and nothing else, while I would certainly try to corroborate it, get a confession, etc. if that’s all I had, not sure exactly what I would do.
    Of course, just think about how much of this goes unreported by the kids – to anyone, I’d suspect much less than “traditional” bullying, which still isn’t that often – despite efforts for awareness.
    This is certainly something worthy of its own discussion/debate. And while I think could be seen as off-topic, I think it does relate when it comes 1st Amend. “I have a right to communicate away from school, and I don’t think you have the right to “police” me.” Similar to facebook posts by teachers. Who would win in court?
    I found this Wake Forest Law Review article interesting: http://wakeforestlawreview.com/2011/11/how-public-schools-can-constitutionally-halt-cyberbullying-a-model-cyberbullying-policy-that-considers-first-amendment-due-process-and-fourth-amendment-challenges/

  4. Bill Armstrong

    Yes Kim – the 1st one – fairly publicized did come from a CCHS Latino angle, although I’m not sure that was made public, it was certainly know among the soccer players, parents & many other in the school. Like I say it was handled appropriately in my view. Sorry to hear about anything last Friday on senior night. Not sure if that has reached the level of “fully established” or “common knowledge” – but, as you also say – it is everywhere.
    Even when isolated & addressed appropriately by the school, there are only so many presentations you can make to the students – wish more could be said to some parents. CCHS is a great place, and while diversity can come with unfortunate interactions, it’s part of why we live here, and when I think to my fairly isolated upbringing in North Georgia – Dalton (it came far before the Hispanic population immigration there) we are light years passed that.
    And when I watch the way my own children & their peers see race, culture, etc. and interact & act in today’s reality, I am proud & amazed at times. I wish I had the opportunities they have.

  5. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Bill – yes to all that. I especially want to say that I am ALWAYS more encouraged than discouraged by what I see in our youth at CCHS, CK, and around our community. They are twice the human beings I’ll ever be and we “adults” could learn much from them.