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Republican-Leaning New Hanover School Board Censors Teachers In New Policy

Source Wilmington Star-News

Since Republicans took over the New Hanover County School Board, numerous controversial policies have been pushed by right-wing board members, including a revision to their latest measure, Policy 7205.

According to Wilmington Star-News, Policy 7205 includes standards for the workplace environment, employee integrity, complying with the federal, state, and local professional standards, and prohibiting sexual misconduct.

The policy reads well until its newly added section Z.

Section Z acts as a blatant censorship clause, restricting teachers from talking to students about racial discrimination, sexism, sexual orientation, and more. 

According to WECT, section Z matches the controversial language of House Bill 187, which was introduced by Republican lawmakers last year. House Bill 187, much like section Z, was an attempt to erase teaching about the realities of racism and sexism in the United States.

The bill passed the House with Republican support but failed in the Senate.

Advocates condemned the bill, writing that, “North Carolina’s teachers are dedicated and highly trained professionals, charged with creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere in the classroom,” stated Reggie Shuford, Executive Director of the North Carolina Justice Center, in a press release.

 “Regardless of this bill’s intent, we trust them to teach and guide their students and continue to create space for honest conversations in the classroom that foster critical thinking skills and allow them to bring their lived experiences to these discussions. This bill is an attempt to distract from the central challenge facing our state’s public schools: decades of underfunding, which has only exacerbated inequality in educational opportunities.”

Much like the pushback against HB 187, students in New Hanover raised concerns over the cloaked discrimination of Policy 7205.

Results from a survey, conducted by student ambassadors for New Hanover County Schools, revealed student’s opinions of the controversial policy. 

With over 60 responses collected from three different high schools and two middle schools, the school ambassadors found that 42% of the students opposed section Z entirely. In addition, 18% of the students had selective concerns about certain points of section Z.

“The majority of students surveyed took issue with these points on the basis that it prevents student exposure to important historical concepts, limits opportunities for critical thinking and discussion in the classroom, and prevents teachers from exercising their professional judgment and expertise,” Aparna Dhulipala, a high school student in New Hanover, told WECT.

New Hanover residents also condemned the policy, stating, “Your actions repeatedly show us that you’re willing to undermine our staff’s expertise, professional judgment, autonomy, and wellbeing to solve problems that don’t even exist,” said Valerie Noel, a community member, during a school board meeting.

Last month, Stephanie Kraybill, a board member and policy committee member, expressed concerns about the policy and how it would be enforced in schools. 

“I feel like letter Z is an intimidation factor and it’s putting teachers on notice that if you say something that’s one of these things on the list, that you are going to be in trouble,” stated Kraybill. “I am afraid of what that trouble might look like and I don’t want our teachers’ professional judgment being called into question.”

Despite concerns from residents and students, the conservative-leaning school board passed the policy 4-3, with Barnhart, Wildeboer, Mason and Bradford voting in favor and McManus, Walker and Kraybill voting against.


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