A reader sent the Vanguard a copy of the audio message Woodland High School’s principal sent to parents following the protest of the national anthem by chemistry teacher Windy Pappas.
In the message the principal stated: “I would like to directly address the incident that happened at the Homecoming Rally on Friday. All Woodland High School staff are role models for students and are responsible for making sure that everyone feels physically and psychologically safe on campus. It’s important that we all understand the appropriate and legal free speech rights of staff and students at school.
“In California schools we operate under the Pinker standard which says that students may exercise their protected free speech at school as long as they do not create a disturbance that interferes with other student’s rights, health, safety or in the educational process.
“While teachers do retain certain First Amendment rights in their capacity as an instructor, such rights are limited by Ed Code and case law. Their personal, political or religious beliefs are not appropriately expressed at school or in the classroom.
“Instead the appropriate legal instructional role is one of facilitator – one who facilitates student discussion and intelligent analysis of current events.
“We will use this as a learning opportunity with students and staff in order to ensure that we are all knowledgeable about the protected rights of students and staff, as well as how to create comfortable spaces to engage in with each other.
“We encourage that these appropriate discussions also occur at home. Together I am confident we can help students understand how to share divergent opinions in a safe responsible way. At times
like this, we know how to support our students and each other.
“That is the strength of the pack. We are Woodland High School and we should be so very proud of that. Tomorrow I’ve asked my staff to embrace and protect our pact to ensure that everyone feels emotionally and physically safe.
“If you have a child that displays any anxiety or concern about being at school please reach out to our counseling team – we need to move our students through this so that they can enjoy their homecoming week which is about creating memories for a lifetime. Let’s give our students the best homecoming week imaginable with enormous respect.”
Windy Pappas, a teacher at Woodland High, was suspended for kneeling during the national anthem at a rally on Friday.
Ms. Pappas, who, as stated above, 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.
The district released a statement Friday afternoon that read 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.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting