Minnesota School’s Policy Prohibits Staff and Students from Supporting Ukraine
There are students and staff who want to show solidarity and support for Ukraine but are being told not to due to Policy 950.
Byron, Minnesota’s School Vision Statement was shared at the beginning of Monday night’s school board meeting and referenced twice during the public forum. It is “Byron Public Schools: A community of learners committed to making the world a better place.”
Policy 950 was also challenged during the public forum by two veteran teachers. The policy says, “The school district will maintain neutrality as to all political candidates and issues.”
Both teachers explained how the situation in Ukraine is not a political issue, but instead a humanitarian crisis. They cited the vision statement and asked the school board to review the policy and let students and staff “stand on the right side of history.”
The first teacher spoke from the heart,
“When I came to this district I was blown away with the commitment by our schools, our students, and our community to lead with compassion and kindness. Over my years we have upheld those values and demonstrated them time and time again.
She then spoke about students and staff that want to show solidarity and support for Ukraine but are being told not to due to Policy 950. She asked the board to review the policy to "allow our staff and students to stand on the right side of history.”
The second teacher also asked for the policy to be reviewed. He cited a recent unanimous vote by the United States Senate that condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal and asked when the last time the United States Senate unanimously agreed on anything.
The small crowd that was in attendance applauded after each teacher spoke.
Byron’s Superintendent, Dr. Mike Neubeck, responded to our request for comment by saying "the School Board is strictly following the advice of the lawyers while working to support staff and students within our buildings."
The Byron School Board continues to look into this issue of posting Ukrainian flags in classrooms. We have received communications from our lawyers and our Board is working through their recommendations which includes not allowing flags to be hung in school. This practice can open the door for other groups to request their flags also to be hung in our schools which would be problematic for the district as a whole. However, the Board supports teachers having discussions regarding the events happening in Ukraine and to use these events to teach about social justice and how students can get involved if they choose. Our goal is to educate students and allow them to use critical thinking skills to make informed decisions. We do not want our teachers to avoid any conversations regarding these events, but we are requiring that flags are not to be placed in our classrooms at this time. The school board will continue to review the policy over the next couple of weeks.