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Bettendorf School Board meeting attendees speak out against principal's pro-Kaepernick social media post

Bettendorf School Board meeting attendees speak out against principal's pro-Kaepernick social media post


Four people spoke out against a Bettendorf building principal’s social media post at a school board meeting Monday night.

High School Principal Joy Kelly shared a John Pavlovitz column on Twitter on Saturday titled “White America, it’s time to take a knee.” Citing Colin Kaepernick’s NFL workout, her tweet said the column “remains timely and worth the read.”

Kaepernick kneeled during the U.S. national anthem before games to protest racial injustice during the 2016-2017 season, his last on an NFL roster. In February, he reached a confidential settlement with the NFL over allegations that owners colluded to keep him unsigned. 

“She had to know that by posting that, that was going to be offensive to people,” Jim Bunn said.

Kelly’s Twitter has since been deactivated, and she did not respond for comment Monday night. In a second tweet, though, she said the post was to “offer a perspective on a current event … not to point fingers or place blame.”

“I did not intend, in any way, to offend anyone, and in no way was the post an indictment on patriotism,” she said, referencing the protest. “I certainly never intended to create division and, unfortunately, failed on that front. For that I am sorry.”

In addition to the tweet, the speakers cited other curriculum changes they called “politically motivated,” including materials on climate change and vaccinations.

As far as classroom materials go, the district’s employee handbook “leaves room for teacher discretion and academic freedom within the confines of acceptable materials as outlined in each curriculum.”

Andy Erpelding, a coach at the high school, said the Pavlovitz column referred to “as controversial a topic as you can right now,” and said there was a “double standard,” as he — as a staff member — had received numerous emails from the administration saying staff should not talk about political topics.

“I was extremely offended that this was sent out,” Mark Vanzuiden said. “I don’t think a political administrator paid with public funds should be putting their views on the public.”

The handbook states that employees will not engage in political activity on district property, but does not address social media use, other than to remind staff that “the Internet is not a closed system and anything posted on an external site may be viewed by others, all over the world.”

In other news:

New board members Joanna Doerder and Rebecca Eastman were sworn in, along with incumbents. Michael Pyevich and Paul Castro. It was the last meeting for both Gordan Staley and Steve Geifman.

Adam Holland was re-elected as board president, and Andrew Champion was elected vice president.

The district streamed video of the board meeting for the first time.


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