(Article updated April 5, 2015)
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A teacher in the public school system told her middle school students that Obama isn’t a Christian and that, if their parents voted for him, then their parents are not Christians either — and she has “doubled down” on her message and her husband is on the Board of Education — the NAACP is involved and the story is now going viral.
The teacher’s name is Nancy Price Perry. She teaches at Dublin Middle School in Dublin, Georgia which is located between Macon and Savannah. Her husband is of the ilk of Erick Erickson and had a local “news” show where he talked about the perils of gay marriage, religion, etc., etc., in the community — his name is Bill Perry and his “show” was called Talk to Me with Bill Perry.
Bill Perry is a member of the Board of Education and sat in on the student-teacher conference — the “strong man” show to intimidate the parents at the meeting where the parents complained. His presence there let it be known that the BOE was backing his wife….or at least that is the impression he wanted to convey to them.
The local newspaper the Courier Herald printed the same letter below on their front page but I was told it did not contain the name of the teacher involved. I cannot confirm this since it requires a subscription to view articles. A local resident in Dublin said ” I was told last night by someone in the school system that nothing will be done because of WHO the teacher is and her husband being on the board! Just like the paper omitted her name & his name, small town bullshit!”
The most inexcusable thing is during the parent-teacher conference, instead of “toning it down,” they “double downed” on their message of Obama not being a Christian, and other inflammatory statements made by the teacher. They are not regretful and show no remorse at all. The Reverend Richard Sheffield is the Dublin City Board of Education Chairman. Any disciplinary actions involving teachers falls on the principal and ultimately the superintendent. Without a national spotlight on this story it seems nothing will be done and this will be swept under the rug and forgotten.
April 3, 2015 Update: Some new information has been released and instead of a new article I decided to update here.
The teacher is holding onto her job. Superintendent Ledbetter had this to say:
“We work to build bridges with students, not build walls, and talking politics, especially giving political opinions, can be very divisive […] We’ve had meetings to make sure there is an understanding that this is not appropriate […] You try to be appropriate to the situation. It’s one of those that you don’t want repeated.”
That report also states the teacher claims the media reports of the incident aren’t true. But if that is the case, why would the superintendent have needed to make that statement in this TV interview? Wouldn’t he simply have said that it was untrue and a misunderstanding?
Dr. Ledbetter also commented on Bill Perry showing up at the parent-teacher meeting.
“A board member being in a parent-teacher conference can tip the balance, or at least from the appearance, tip the balance of fairness. It is not a practice that we can allow.”
You think? 🙄 Especially when the BOE member is the husband of the accused teacher. The Board of Education has exactly one employee they supervise and that is the superintendent. This level of interference by a board member violates the Annotated Code of Georgia rules governing local boards of Education. Bill Perry should have never been allowed in that meeting but I want to know why the principal and superintendent weren’t in attendance.
He said that action had been taken against the teacher but failed to specify what that was but she is still teaching at Dublin Middle School. I can’t imagine many other school districts where this teacher would have been allowed to have kept her job.
April 5, 2015 Update: In the last two days the Georgia NAACP released a statement saying they believe when Bill Perry sat in on the meeting with his wife and the parents he may have been in violation of SACS. (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) . This is the accreditation agency and has a lot of power and influence over both school districts and universities. SACS has rules governing how boards of education must operate. Board members are not allowed to be involved with the school district’s day-to-day operations.
The issue has nothing to do with any First Amendment rights of the teacher or her husband, but this type of behavior is simply not appropriate in the classroom if the allegations are true. The Georgia NAACP plans to meet with Superintendent Ledbetter again this week and if they do not feel that he has handled the situation properly a formal complaint may be filed with SACS.
The incident in question happened around three weeks ago. Dr. Ledbetter spoke by phone in an interview to say that he feels the matter has been resolved. He said action has been taken and he is confident it will not happen again. We do not have another version of the incident since he apparently told Nancy Perry not to give her version to the media. But from the few statements he has released he hasn’t denied them either.
Dr. Ledbetter “We’re not there to try to try to give them our thoughts or opinions on things,” he says. “We’re there to help them learn how to be learners. When we get into political discussions, particularly if you may not be on the same side, it divides. It doesn’t help build relationships.”
“We’re always working to improve,” said Ledbetter. “There are no perfect schools, just as there are no perfect people. When we make a mistake, we address it.”
According to Dr. Ledbetter:
- School Officials met with Nancy Perry
- He discussed with Perry what is and what isn’t appropriate to discuss in the classroom
- Dr. Ledbetter said the district has handled the situation.
- Nancy Perry is still teaching at Dublin Middle School
- Details about how Perry was disciplined is unknown. They have not released any details on actions taken or even issued a statement of what they believe was said.
Both Nancy and Bill Perry have been advised not to speak to the media to give their version. However, when reaching out to Perry at her home, her husband says they have been advised not to comment but says there are two sides to the story. He also said his wife has worked for the school for over 20 years and that the situation was blown out of proportion. Earlier Nancy Perry also said it was “untrue”.
Unless Dr. Ledbetter provides more details as to what actions have been taken and is a bit more transparent with the parents and the NAACP at the upcoming meeting they may decide to file a formal complaint with SACS. If this teacher never made any of those comments then Dr. Ledbetter should be more transparent and let the public know what she actually said. If the reports of what she said are true, then that also needs to be made known along with the disciplinary action that was taken. Transparency can go along way towards calming things down.
The only action that seems to have taken place so far is the Superintendent sent the parents a certified letter. In the letter he told them that he had spoken with Bill Perry and told him not to do it again. It also said that Nancy Perry is retiring. I do not see this slap on the wrist as solving anything at all.
This ho-hum disciplinary approach is insulting and shows Dr. Ledbetter doesn’t view this as an egregious offense that warrants a much sterner punishment and at a minimum a public apology that at least appears sincere and shows contrition. At this point I think SACS may have to be called to get any sort of justice and would not be surprised if the Georgia ACLU were not also asked to assist.
It is my opinion that Bill Perry should resign from the Board of Education or be removed. Nancy Perry should be fired if she will not recant the lie she taught and sincerely apologize. Even with an apology she should at least take a leave of absence until the next school year begins. Humans make mistakes, but no one should be forgiven when they aren’t sorry either.
As you can see from this interview with Dr. Ledbetter, he seems completely unaware of the severity or national scrutiny of this incident.
I am posting the original letter from the NAACP below with more details about the events. Via our friends at the Laurens County, GA Democratic Party
By Patricia Manson
On Tuesday, March 24,2014, the Courier Herald published a front page article about a parent’s presentation at the Dublin School Board meeting that took place on March 23, 2015. At that meeting the father read a letter he had written to Dr.Ledbetter, Superintendent of Dublin City Schools.
The letter clearly expressed the parent’s concern about an incident that occurred in his 13 year old son’s elective class and his ensuing efforts to bring resolution to the matter. The father’s cause for worry was not so much what was said about the President of the United States but that it was said by the teacher in his child’s classroom and that she called into question the Christianity of anyone who does not think as she does.
In an effort to ensure that the public has the facts, we present the following chronological order of events thus far.
1. The teacher made several negative comments about the President, including that he is not a Christian as he claims to be. She said that any parent who supports him is not a Christian. She challenged her students to prove their Christianity.
2. The child shared with his parents what she said.
3. The parents, in an effort to settle the problem, requested an immediate parent-teacher conference.However, the conference took place several days later than the parents had wished.
4. Present at the conference were the parents, the teacher, a representative from the school and the teacher’s husband, who is a member of the Dublin School Board.
5. The parents were expecting that the teacher would hear their concerns, acknowledge the inappropriateness of her behavior in the classroom setting and show remorse for her conduct.
6. She did none of the above. Instead, she presented to the parents a packet of several pages from a website that expressed her views on religion and politics. She was supported in this by her husband.
7. The parents’ concern was exacerbated by the teacher’s unwillingness to even consider the possibility that her classroom conduct was not conducive to a healthy learning environment. They left the conference more determined than ever to pursue the matter further.
8. The father next wrote a letter to Dr. Ledbetter expressing his concerns and read the letter at the Board meeting on March 23, 2015.
The parents were then assured by Dr. Ledbetter and the School Board Chairman, Mr. Sheffield, that they would have a response within 10 business days. Several Board members expressed their appreciation that the parent persevered to bring the matter to their attention. Some quotes from the father’s letter best describe his thoughts:
“Our concerns about our son…seem to be ignored.” “Shouldn’t teachers be careful about the manner and timeliness in which they express their beliefs?” The teacher “claims to be a Christian. This is an admirable stance. Unfortunately, she also freely expresses her mind about who she thinks is or is not.”
The parents feel that their child was verbally sucker punched by his teacher and was not given the opportunity to defend himself.
They take their parental responsibilities very seriously and do not give up those responsibilities to anyone at any time. They believe that certain subjects, including religion, politics and sex, are best taught in the home by the parents.
This teacher has betrayed her profession. She has broken the trust from teacher to student and from teacher to parent. The harm that she has done goes beyond her classroom. It is incalculable. At the very least she has tainted the learning experience and caused divisiveness among her students, the school faculty, staff and the community.
Her husband should be held accountable for his abuse of power stemming from his participation in the parent-teacher conference.
He had no right to be there. His presence did nothing to enhance the process. In fact, his presence further eroded his wife’s credibility as a teacher.
The NAACP calls upon the Dublin School Board to do the right thing; to hold the teacher to the highest standards of professionalism. We call for the Dublin School Board to take all necessary actions to ensure that, as the father stated in his letter, the matter is…“addressed in a way that discourages any similar incident in the future”.
Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr. said “The time is always right to do what is right.“
The bottom line is to do what is right for all of our children. Let us not enable such harmful acts to continue by ignoring them. We cannot allow such behavior to occur with impunity. We are all accountable.