The Sunnyside School Board will be discussing a new district policy on “staff expression” at their next meeting October 28.

In their Monday night work session, the Board said they used the Washington Education Association, WEA’s “Teaching Truth” document and the contract with the Sunnyside Educators Association in forming the policy.

Board Chair Michelle Perry says there have been concerns about political ideologies displayed in classrooms or being pushed on students.

“We thought that by creating this policy, which encompasses what WEA and our teachers have in their contract, let’s our community know that we don’t want any sort of indoctrination to take place in our schools. That we want our students to be taught how to be critical thinkers, not told what to think.”

The WEA has noted that the First Amendment does not extend to the classroom.

It will be the official first reading of the proposal and could be changed. Board members Sandra Linde and Jillian Patterson met with teachers at the high school last week to discuss the matter.

The policy says that staff are considered to be speaking on behalf of the district during instruction and must refrain from taking political positions or espousing personal beliefs, including in classroom decorations or displays.

The Sun reached out to get comment on the proposed policy from the SEA or WEA but did not receive an answer prior to going to print.

The policy will be posted to the District’s website so that the public can provide thoughtful comment.

In other news from Monday’s meeting, the district is also reviewing its contract with the city of Sunnyside for School Resource Officers.

Concerns were raised about new state laws limiting what police officers can do and seeing more work being done by security liaisons along with questions about whether or not the district is getting its needs met by the city.

It was noted that the city and the schools are still seeing gang activity.

One security liaison wrote a letter to the board noting that there are things they are not trained for and that maybe there should be consideration to offering the option of arming them.

The District currently has two SROs and six security liaisons.

Kevin Rounce can be reached at 509-837-4500 ext 110 or email krounce@sunnysidesun.com

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