The incompetent management of the Geary County USD 475 School District has created an educational backwater where pronouns taught in its own elementary school grammar lessons have to be discarded in the upper grades in order to follow the Leftist education brand embraced by the district. It must make parents there wonder what other core areas of education are being tossed out the window for fear of opposing woke culture.
In short, board members in USD 475 need to take back control of their district by properly managing or firing superintendent Dr. Reginald Eagleston. If they cannot or will not do that, those board members need to resign or be recalled from office for dereliction of their elected duties and be replaced by new choices from district voters.
The USD 475 lawsuit with middle school teacher Pamela Ricard over an attempt to force her to use the chosen pronouns of transgender students is as distinguished for its violation of Ricard’s First Amendment Rights as it is for the district’s own educational hypocrisy. How can a school district teach its students proper grammatical use of pronouns in elementary grades as part of the foundation principles of the English language, then discipline a teacher for not following those basic grammatical rules purely to keep the district out of the crosshairs of Leftist culture? If schools go so far as to negate their grammar lessons to foster a culture that’s non-factural, how long will it be until the tenets of history, social studies and even math and science are torpedoed by the school district’s own gutlessness?
The story revolves around a lawsuit filed by Ricard against USD 475 in March, after the district repeatedly refused to remove a disciplinary reprimand from her personnel record on a claim that she violated a district policy on gender and pronouns in the 2021 school year by referring to a student as “Miss” when that student claims to be a boy. Ricard’s lawsuit notes that acquiescing to students’ gender and pronoun choices was not even a part of the district’s policy handbook at the time.
According to the court filing:
“Prior to addressing the student by the student’s last name, Ricard had been informed by email by the school counselor (that) the student preferred to be called by an alternate first name different from the student’s legal and enrolled first name. Although the school counselor, when notifying Ms. Ricard of the student’s new preferred first name in his email to Ricard, had referred to the student as “she” (consistent with the student’s biological sex), Ms. Ricard was later told by the student’s classmate that the student’s preferred pronouns were “he/him.”
As noted in a story by The Sentinel news service, this was in spite of the fact that the student never directly told Ricard to use a non-science based pronoun in addressing her.
It’s the kind of modern ridiculous public education story that leaves the Geary County District sitting in the corner wearing a dunce hat, and fueling the post-Covid charge by parents to find out exactly what school districts are teaching their kids and the mind-crafting social policies that are being forced on students and teachers alike. It’s no wonder parents across the country are up in arms after seeing illustrations of this fawning to the liberal Left in their kids’ home learning sessions during the Covid school shutdowns.
Last week a federal judge gave Ricard a partial victory by granting a temporary injunction against the school district, preventing board members from disciplining her if she were to intentionally disclose a student’s “preferred name or pronoun” to a parent. The court did not grant an injunction against the district’s now enacted policy that forces staff to use a student’s selected name or pronoun.
Ricard should be lauded for fighting this silliness and taking the school district to court. School board members and administrators who lack the guts to oppose this woke nonsense and who allow it to destroy basic principles of learning have no business in education.
– Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.