Teacher Reportedly Suspended for Kneeling during National Anthem at Woodland High

Details are still coming in but Windy Pappas, a teacher at Woodland High, was suspended for kneeling during the national anthem at a rally.

As one parent posted on Facebook: “The community went nuts, demanding she be fired. What’s amazing though, is at the beginning of the year, at the same school, a teacher was arrested for Molestation of several students…. and it was bearly a note in the media, the community barely expressed outrage. Makes you question exactly what is really important… or it should at least.

“I don’t know who this teacher is, but I’m greatful she put her job on the line for kids like MY child, who has faced discrimination from both students and staff here in Woodland. And until YOU have a child come home in tears, because they faced racial predjudice, go ***k yourself with your negative opinion on kneeling. Educate yourself on the movement and why it matters.”

Ms. Pappas, who is a chemistry teacher, can be seen in the photo with signs that say, “It’s OK to Disagree with every sign HERE” and “Black Lives Matter” during the anthem.

The assembly reportedly continued but the teacher was later removed from her classroom and escorted off the school premises.

According to coverage in the Woodland Daily Democratic, she acknowledged her actions were in violation of California Educational Code and she was drafting an apology.

She told the paper that she had no regrets but did not realize that many would be angered by her actions.

“I felt like it was something respectful and supportive to our flag,” Ms. Pappas said. “I didn’t even think of it as a protest. I was taken off guard by the reaction.”

The district released a statement Friday afternoon that reads as follows: “We are aware that there was an unauthorized display during a Woodland High School rally on Friday. As a District, we’re using this as a learning opportunity to ensure we are all aware of the free speech rights of students and employees in schools.”

Ms. Pappas told the paper, “In general I promote students to express their opinions.  I really feel like my students that are in my classroom know that. I told my students that all lives matter.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting



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David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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68 Comments

  1. Eric Gelber

    I’d be interested in a citation to the Education Code provision that was allegedly violated. I’d also note that statutes may not violate constitutional rights–either on their face or as applied.

  2. Nora Oldwin

    People, just because a law “is” does not mean it “should” exist or continue as a law; think of Jim Crow laws for one example, or the laws that used to be on the books against gay marriage among a host of other examples of laws or regulations that are out of keeping with an evolving society. One way to challenge laws/ordinances/guidelines and to bring them into compliance with societal change is to do what this brave teacher did, in a way that apparently sacrificed her own safety and reputation. She is a true teacher, and I would support her if I had kids in her class. I do support her as a community member.  The law is only what people- lawmakers- voters- at the time-  decide makes sense, or is “right” and that,-god knows- is and should be subject to constant attention and analysis.

      1. Tia Will

        So if she wore a swastika you would be OK with that?”

        If she were not advocating any action on the basis of the presence of the swastika, yes. If she were wearing it as an incitement to action as was done in Charlottesville, no.

  3. Keith O

    I’m sure all liberals would’ve had no problem either with her demonstrating her 1st Amendment rights if she had been wearing a Trump hat while brandishing a pro NRA sign during the school rally?

     

  4. Nora Oldwin

    Jim Hoch, I don’t know you, and you very clearly do not know me. That said, the conversation is important. In this country we have seen a surge of white supremacy. It’s important to SEE it, so that we can understand and work to eradicate it. If it’s underground, it is silently deadly. Better to have hatred out in the open. In that context, the context of social change and understanding what needs to change and how to make that change, then the answer to your question- which I find provocative and not completely genuine, but then, I don’t know you- is “yes”.

    1. Jim Hoch

      Nora, the question is designed to separate those who believe everyone should be free to agree with their point of view from those that believe in a principle that transcends their own POV.

      Personally I believe that she is in the wrong. If she wants to buy a ticket to a sporting event and kneel than I would support her. To do so as a teacher at a school function is divisive

       

        1. Matt Williams

          David Greenwald said . . . “The neutral position is probably no national anthem, no protest.”

          I strongly oppose that position David.  There is a very simple way to have both the anthem and the protest.  The players of one of the NFL teams did it recently … simply separate the two.  The players all knelt silently in the 30 seconds prior to the commencement of the Anthem.  They finished their silent vigil and then rose and stood for the playing of the Anthem.  Any perceived disrespect is eliminated and the important social issue is illuminated.

        2. David Greenwald

          Sorry Matt, but telling people how to protest is problematic for free expression from my perspective.  It’s fine that the players chose to do that, but that’s their choice.

        3. Matt Williams

          Well David, your “no anthem, no protest” neutral alternative is telling people that they can’t protest.  It seems like that is worse than suggesting a constructive alternative that means we get to have our cake (the anthem) and eat it too (conduct the protest).

          1. David Greenwald

            Sort of (you actually wouldn’t have anything to protest in that case), but at least in that case it would be consistent. The current policy allows for the anthem and prohibits protest which to my mind tilts the scales. Personally I don’t have a problem with allowing for protests but it does get people bent out of shape and like others, I think the anthem is antiquated and out of place for sporting events especially at schools.

        4. Matt Williams

          David, you are linking the Anthem and the protest.  The issue being protested is independent and separate from the Anthem.  Take away the Anthem and the reason for the protest still exists.  The protest would proceed if the Anthem were removed as a part of the pregame activities.

          With that said, why do you believe the anthem is antiquated and out of place for sporting events especially at schools?

        5. Howard P

          As I said in in an earlier post, if not the anthem, if not the flag, there would be other excuses… Matt is right, and so are you David, when you posted,

          Its divisive because people make it divisive.

          Damn straight!

          William Randolph Hearst understood that… as have many journalists since… controversy “sells”…

  5. Howard P

    I really like the sign “It’s OK to disagree with every sign here”… a good mini-lesson in civics and logic!

    As to the logic, it allows folk to disagree with it itself!  I like!

    Also works for the ‘other’ “signs” in evidence… hand over heart, just standing (bored/unengaged), and the kneeling thing…

  6. David Greenwald

    I find it interesting, the right took on the issue of free speech at the beginning of the year, it seems that the limits of their tolerance are when the flag is involved.

    1. Keith O

      Do you want your child’s teacher displaying their political views in your child’s class or anywhere on public school grounds?

      Would you have no problem with your child being subject to a teacher’s conservative political viewpoint while at school?

      I think it’s the left that’s being hypocritical here.

      I don’t believe a teacher should ever display their political leanings while at school, either left or right.

        1. Jim Hoch

          There is a difference between a political discussion and the teacher making a political statement. Political discussion is meant to make everybody examine what they believe and why why a teacher’s political statement is likely to cause those students who have a different opinion to feel uncomfortable.

      1. Don Shor

        Would you have no problem with your child being subject to a teacher’s conservative political viewpoint while at school?

        Happened to me all the time in junior high and high school.

        1. David Greenwald

          We had really good discussions in high school with teachers who were former Vietnam Vets.  I learned a lot.  We can’t be so afraid of exposing kids to different ideas that we lose out on valuable teaching moments.

        2. Keith O

          Come on David, are you really telling me that if your child had a teacher who was a Trump supporter and was drilling your kid with conservative views that you would just sit idly by and call it a “teaching moment”?

          Come on now, be honest.

        3. Keith O

          David, I don’t believe for one minute that if your child had a Trump supporting conservative teaching his views in your child’s class that you wouldn’t end up in the principal’s office demanding that it stop.

      2. Howard P

        Exactly how would a chemistry teacher get even close to discussing ‘right-left’ things, except as it relates to the orientation of atoms in a molecule?

        A chemistry teacher would have no reason to discuss right/left politics (or any politics) in a chemistry class.  If a chemistry teacher did so, the administrator, when made aware of it, should take the teacher aside, without ‘drama’, fact find, and if appropriate, counsel… this seems to be disproportional… I could opine that the suspension, and all the ‘drama’ that seemed to accompany it, worries me about the political proclivities of the admin. [or their intelligence and knowledge of the education codes].  Or their cowardice in caving to demands without following proper procedures under the education code.  Who ‘complained’?  What were their motives?  Who took the picture?  is it “exhibit one”?

        Seems the administrator(s), in addition to the teacher, should be suspended until a third party investigation is made… some administrators may be ‘right-wing’/conservative/dyed in the wool Trump supporters… the way this was handled is disturbing.

      3. Tia Will

        Keith

        I strongly disagree with you. I think that teachers should be allowed to express their opinions as long as that option is open to all. Where I grew up, in a rural town with population of 2000, the very fact that no one had liberal ideas was a form of societal indoctrination. I learned much more, and did far better once I arrived in California where a variety of opinions were present and discussed openly.

        1. Howard P

          Tia… meant as an honest set of questions…

          Do you differentiate between a teacher sharing their opinions if asked, or doing so unsolicited?   Should a math teacher, during math class time feel free to share their opinions on contraception/abortion, stance with North Korea, etc., particularly if is not germane to the subject matter?

          IF I was a government/poly sci teacher, and if asked my opinion on a particular matter, I’d lean towards ‘yes’, with a spoken caveat that it is a personal opinion… that’s being honest.  For a teacher to expound on their beliefs, outside the subject matter, without such a caveat, and unsolicited, I’d say “hell no!!!”

          First time it happened, I’d counsel the teacher… second time, would probably suspend… third time, strongly suggest they find other employment, else be fired.

          Teachers should teach facts, and if there is a difference of opinions on ‘facts’, give a balanced presentation of why those differences exists… just my opinion, tho’… but deeply held.

      4. David Guerrero

        Public School in and of itself is quite conservative, as I have observed in my 20+ years of service in area public schools. I don’t see her disrespecting the flag. I see 1/3rd of the “respectful” flag saluters distracted by the  disturbance in the student section off camera.  In the moment, her gestures were quite respectful in the context of the distracted crowd. As far as public displays of Trump support in public schools, my children have reported students at their schools openly wear Trump paraphernalia.  To my knowledge administration permits that and other open display of expression of their 1st amendment rights. As far as workplace restrictions and the specific ed code violation, I would be  interested to read the specific language of the violation of ed code and the specific or broad of a definition they have that addresses the teachers actions.

        Personally, I would attest that students of color face many challenges inside and outside the classroom, from open prejudice and discrimination to unconscious biases in increased referral for intensive specialized academic programs and interventions that take them out of the classroom. Her display of support for those that are  in her belief oppressed or discriminated against was a social, not political expression.

    2. Howard P

      I actually don’t think it’s about the flag, or the anthem… just like Charlotteville wasn’t really about the bronze works there.

      It’s (I believe) all about ‘power’ and wanting everyone to conform to their views, their behaviors, their actions… or, in some cases, acknowledge them… if we followed Don’s suggestion about elimination of the anthem  sports events, rest assured that those inclined in this way will find other ‘signs’, real or metaphorical (symbols) to argue/protest about.

      The ‘right’ AND the ‘left’, or liberal/conservative have each been guilty of this coercion thing, sanctimoniously saying their views should be ‘gospel/truth’ for everyone else.  “Celebrate Diversity” sounds a bit like a directive, as much as an invitation… if you don’t celebrate diversity, are you a bad person?  How about you just acknowledge it and accept it?

      I really like that sign… it’s OK if any/everyone disagrees with me…

      I’ll probably never kneel or take a knee, when the flag is ‘presented’, except perhaps at a funeral for a veteran who was a good friend… if I do, it will be out of profound respect, not ‘protest’.  I’ll be ‘taking a knee’ at church tonight… not to protest the Mass, but as a sign of respect, at appropriate times.  I’d be more likely to confront a yahoo who wants all professional athletes fired due to taking a knee, and yet does not uncover (take off hat), or at least mouth the words (some are self-conscious about singing, that’s ok), and or just sit or stand there, playing with their cell phone during the anthem.  I hate false piety and hypocrites (a known, not ‘unconscious bias’… but deeply held).

      Note that “Kap” uncovered… note that he focused his attention towards the flag and what was going on… my problem with him was that I believe he was just calling attention to himself, just when folk were paying less attention to him when he was on the field ‘working’.  Note the teacher was kneeling (which many see as an act of profound respect), uncovered, ‘hand over heart’, and perhaps… (the photo is fuzzy) actually signing along [unlike (apparently) the woman front left (appears bored/distracted, perhaps doing the ‘thing’ pro forma) and the athlete (?)  front right who apparently has head cover on, and also appears to be doing the pro forma thing.

      Guess who I believe was MOST respectful!

      This knee/kneeling thing has become grossly silly, IMHO.

      Feel free to ignore or disagree with the ‘signs’ of others… if you can…

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

  7. David Greenwald

    I spent several hours last night photographing the awardees of the Concilio Scholarships.  Those kids are from all over the county and they are not snowflakes.  They are damn impressive.  We need to stop treating high school students Ike they are going to melt if they hear a viewpoint that they don’t 100 percent agree with.

  8. Keith O

    I think what we’re seeing here is that liberals know that most of our teaching institutions are now run by left leaning educators so they’re fine with teachers drumming their political views into our children.

    1. Howard P

      Keith… had the instructor told/suggested (implied coercion) her students to do likewise, I’d agree… as it stands, you’ve just used it as an excuse to ‘spout’ your spiel… I disagree with your logic likening this to support your view(s)…

      Again this is a non-story as to the action of the teacher, a significant story as to what appears to have followed.

    2. David Greenwald

      Keith – you’re also failing to see that this is as much about the division between the liberals and the progressives/ radical as it is a left-right issue.

    3. Tia Will

      Please see my comment about indoctrination from the right. In conservative areas of the country, in the home, on TV, on talk radio, in the churches and in the schools, all children are continuously exposed to is a form of conservative “Christian” perspective. I have yet to talk with a conservative who views this relentless omnipresent conservative teaching as “drumming their political views into children”. My experience with all pervasive conservatism was 50 years ago, but Hillbilly Elegy elegantly portrays that it still exists in rural America today. Often we describe the beliefs we have adopted as the “truth” while portraying the teachings of others as “brainwashing” or “drumming it in”. My professors did not indoctrinate me. My “liberalization” started with first reading To Kill a Mocking Bird at around 12 years old. By the time I moved to California at age 16, I was more liberal than anyone I knew including my teachers and later professors.

        1. Tia Will

          I would say that was my point. Neither side owns indoctrination. But in the current climate it is most common for the right to feel that “brainwashing” is occurring at universities while not recognizing that many have had “brainwashing” from the right their whole lives.

          As an example, my mother never made it passed a junior high education. She was a conservative from a very conservative family. When I would ask her why she felt as she did about any particular topic her answer was always the same. “That is just the way I was raised”. Certainly sounds like brain washing to me.

        2. Howard P

          Actually, both sides own “indoctrination”… both “sides” get uncomfortable when people actually think, and come to their own conclusions.

          Unlike you I was raised in a different environment… I was encouraged to learn and think for myself, guided perhaps by my parents, but not expected to think the same… Dad, a Republican, and I (formerly) a Democrat, compared notes during and after elections… we voted for people, not party ideologies, and voted the same ~ 95% of the time, often for the same reasons…

    4. Jim Hoch

      I have a very good friend from grade school who has a sister that teaches at a private school in another state. She posted a photo of herself and her entire class marching at at some event with each kid holding the same sign. She thought it was tremendous. I asked her if it was not somewhat odd that each of the 26 kids in her class had exactly her view point on that issue. She did not find it odd that all the kids in her class agree with her.

      1. Howard P

        That is a bit concerning, sort of.  Depending on the nature of the private school, perhaps understandable, in that it is probably not just the teacher, but the whole ‘culture’ of the school… I’d not expect a parochial school to espouse atheism/agnosticism in their curriculum, for instance.

  9. Cres Vellucci

    In my freshman year of college an instructor wrote a certain 4-letter word on the chalkboard, and declared it was “not obscene.” Then he wrote “WAR” and said THAT was obscene. I disagreed. But after I was drafted and sent to Vietnam, I truly understood what  he meant and appreciated his comment. And, recently I “took a knee” with other vets to illustrate that kneeling during the pledge/anthem is NOT anti-military or anti-U.S. but truly a protest to injustice.  I support the teacher’s action.

    1. Tia Will

      Thanks for sharing Cres. I was an in country GMO, life never at risk. I appreciate your perspective. I also see taking the knee not as a sign of disrespect for flag or country , but rather a use of a public platform to call attention to a societal issue of importance to those engaging in the protest. That is what every single player that has taken a knee has said was their motivation and I have no cause to doubt them.

      If we are being consistent in our disapprobation, we could also be criticizing any citizen that does not remove their cap, stand straight facing the flag and pay strict attention to the flag throughout the anthem. We might also criticize 45 for joking with Hannity throughout retreat which any vet knows, and the commander in chief should know, is a time for standing in quiet silence facing the flag as it is lowered at end of duty.  I am very tired of this endless distortion of what it means to “take a knee” which I would certainly do if I could stand back up afterwards given my back problem.

       

  10. Ron

    Don:  “The national anthem should no longer be played at sporting events.”

    I’ve never understood the connection in the first place.  (Trying to tie patriotism to rooting for a sports team?  Maybe not so different?  A marketing ploy, to some degree?)

    Never understood the reason for the pledge in elementary school, either.

    The kneeling thing doesn’t bother me, but probably doesn’t belong in schools.  (Nor does the “under God” portion of the pledge, which was added not so long ago.)

    1. Howard P

      As to the connection, see… 
      https://www.google.com/search?q=ational+anthem+at+sporting+events+history&oq=ational+anthem+at+sporting+events+history&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.15714j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

      It also serves as a way to quiet the gathering crowd, and focus on the event.  More effective than “The game is about to start, please take your seats and pay attention” loudspeaker announcement.  We could pick another song, say “America the Beautiful”, or “This Land is my Land” but can see both being protested for similar reasons.  Or, a prayer invocation for the health and safety of the participants (yeah, that’d go over like the proverbial lead balloon).

      Those who wish to search for controversy will indeed, find it.

      I assume, Ron, you know why the ‘under God’ clause was added.  If not, google it.  You still would have the ‘pledge allegiance’ to the flag piece… unacceptable to those who don’t stand with what might be considered a ‘graven image’… pledging allegiance to the country would solve that, except for those who believe the country is ‘messed up’ at least at the governance level… now or 8 years ago…

      So, Ron, you have a problem in school sports, or school age sports, having coaches yell out ‘take a knee’ when a player is injured?  Or when coach needs to give players instructions?  Really?

      I keep getting back to the ‘sign(s)’…  and why people are adamant that all others believe/act as they WANT them to…

      1. Ron

        To be honest, I have trouble taking the entire “controversy” seriously.  And, that ultimately includes the points I made.

        I suspect that interest will dissipate, in the not-too-distant future.

        The underlying issue (e.g., some of the police actions we’ve witnessed as a result of cell phone videos – which weren’t available in the past), and a failure to acknowledge biases (by “good people on all sides”) is a significant issue.  (Sorry about the semi-quote in parentheses, but biases are not limited to one group.  It seems to be part of human nature, and something to be aware of.)  The party that’s “in control” (depending upon context) can essentially inflict it at times, upon the party that’s not in control. At times, it manifests itself into outright racism.

        On a related note, I just read about the “ethnic cleansing” that’s going on in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

        1. Howard P

          With all due respect, what you call “underlying issues” has nothing/little to do with this one teacher’s action.  And consequences.

          Drift warning… this teacher should not be a symbol of anything other than her thoughts/emotions/actions… if she is deemed to have violated the education code, she should be counselled… what about the other signs/disturbances reported in the article/subsequent posts?  Were they in conformance to the education code?  If not, why are those folk not sanctioned, to the fullest extent of the law?  “Differential treatment” due to her being a woman?  Being relatively young? Being ‘white’?

          C’mon this is silly/inane!  Stop the silliness/inanity, please.

          How does this issue compare with the Puerto Rico disaster? The Sonoma/Napa fire disaster… Henry? Irma? No one lost a life or property here. Get a clue… “feelings” were ‘hurt’. Get over it.

        2. Ron

          Not sure what you’re referring to, but suspect that I pretty much agree.

          Long ago, I took a college course in film literature, in which the professor made her (unrelated) views known, as part of the lecture.  I finally became kind of angry about it, and confronted her (respectfully), after class.  (I had never previously done such a thing.)  She did not react badly, and it seemed like it wasn’t as much of an issue, after that.  I then felt better toward her, as well.  (Of course, I was a college student, and not a child forced to endure such a view.)

          Note that I haven’t said whether or not I “agreed” with her view.  But, I felt that it didn’t belong as part of the lecture, and could potentially lead to a “disconnect” (bias) between the students and the professor. In a sense, professors and teachers are “practice supervisors” for students, with some of the same type of power. (Similar to a “boss”, in the working world.)

          I believe the same type of concerns are (ultimately) true, regarding the introduction of religion into schools (in any form). But, it’s difficult to entirely separate it, since it’s part of our culture (and even our currency). At times, it’s not worth the conflict, to confront it.

           

           

  11. Sharla C.

    She shouldn’t apologize.  She was obviously trying to make a point and the reaction (both positive and negative, but mainly the negative) of the community is a good thing and shows that the point needs to be made. Better to bring this stuff out in the open.  I predict that students will kneel in support of the teacher and I would support them.  They only have a year or so before they are no longer under the thumb of a misguided school administration.

  12. Tia Will

    Howard

    Do you differentiate between a teacher sharing their opinions if asked, or doing so unsolicited?   Should a math teacher, during math class time feel free to share their opinions on …

    My response is “it depends”. Let’s suppose that the issue was not one that you brought up, but the issue of whether “science is a religion”. Then I think that regardless of what brought up the issue, whether a question, a community discussion, or just the instructor bringing up the issue is completely valid. Students need at some point to differentiate evidence based science from faith based religion.  On contraception, probably too far removed from the subject matter unless asked directly in which case I believe the instructor should provide a concise answer to the question and then move back to topic.

    Does that answer the question ?

    1. Howard P

      Close enough… gets to answering questions, vs. proselytizing… I still believe the teacher should add the caveats re:  “in my opinion”, or “that’s a good question for your parent(s)”, but not as an “authority”.  Particularly is it is not within the subject matter.

      You picked an interesting referent. “is science a religion”… is science ‘faith based’?  Yes… have you ever seen an atom or a quark?  You have faith that that is the most logical explanation for things… you rely on research, beliefs by others… even without your personal knowledge… so, it is inherently ‘faith-based’…

      I believe in science (spent my career in applying it), but am also aware of “pseudo-science”… I also have a part in spirituality/religion… they are not dichotomous… I hope you understand that science and a faith-based approach are not necessarily mutually exclusive.   Maybe you ‘believe’, not.  If not, more is the pity.

      Has science proved/shown how a two cell organism can become an Albert Einstein?  Or an Adolf Hitler?  Or…

      But yes, “it depends” is a fair answer…

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