Sticker removed from library

Sparks discussion about what is considered political

A sticker similar to this was put on the plexiglass on the library’s front desk. It was removed by school administrators in August.

A sticker similar to this was put on the plexiglass on the library’s front desk. It was removed by school administrators in August.

At the beginning of this school year, librarian Dr. Gregory Baum attempted to display a sticker in the library, but had to remove it due to other statements printed on the sticker.

Principal Dr. Emily McCown said that the statements on the sticker indicated a political lean, citing RSD Section 5 of
Policy 4841, which states that employees of the district should “refrain from using school contacts and privileges to promote partisan politics, sectarian religious views, or self-serving propaganda of any kind.”

“The issue here isn’t the symbolism [of the pride flag] but the words that were on it,” McCown said. “There were several
statements on the sticker that indicated a political platform, and as educators we just need to make sure that we’re maintaining neutrality on political issues.”

The other Rockwood principals echoed a similar sentiment. Dr. Corey Sink of Eureka High School and Dr. Karen
Calcaterra of Lafayette High School both responded with the same statement.

“Additionally, as a public entity, we are obligated to refrain from advocating for any particular cause, group, or organization within the school community,” the statement said.

For Baum, differentiating between politics and human rights is difficult, since human rights have always had to be earned through politics.

“There’s no human right that’s actually built into us. We have to fight for all of them. I think there are a lot that are taken for granted because they’re in the Constitution or they conform with our personal worldviews, but I think at some
point every single one was political.”

However, McCown said that with time, some things have become more politicized than others.

“Things that maybe we didn’t think were political five or 10 years ago have now become a part of a certain party’s agenda. That’s really when we have to look at it and say is this really more about politics than it is about inclusion?” McCown said.

Baum said that he understands how the district views the situation, although he doesn’t agree.

“Personally, I believe that it’s speaking about human rights, but I understand that’s not the same opinion as the school district, and so I think it’s important to keep those things separate,” Baum said.

McCown has said that teachers are allowed to display pride flags and stickers in their classrooms to promote a welcoming environment if they remain neutral.

“For classroom decor, we really recommend that things be related to your curriculum, but I know a lot of teachers
have things on their doorways that just indicate a safe zone, and a lot of times through that signage there’s some sort of
rainbow motif,” McCown said.

However, Rockwood does not have a specific policy regarding the issue of pride flags in classrooms. Using the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education’s Policy GBCB, Kickapoo High School ordered teachers to remove pride flags from their classrooms.

Like Rockwood’s, Springfield’s policy had no direct reference to pride flags and instead focused on staff conduct, where
they state that staff may not “engage in political campaigning during the working day”. Baum said that, however difficult, a policy specifically concerning pride flags could add some uniformity inside Rockwood.

“I think it would be helpful if there was some consistency from the district level,” Baum said. “But I understand that it would be very difficult to write.”