Earlier this year, 1st grade teacher Melissa Tempel, who was teaching in the Waukesha School District, had suggested the song “Rainbowland” by Miley Cyrus and Dolly Pardon for a school concert. The principal of the school, Mark Schneider, rejected the song but gave no reason. The common perception was that it was due to the flaming homophobia spreading across the nation and being adopted by conservative districts and states.
Much later, Schneider came up with the excuse that he was concerned about what children might find if they Googled Miley Cyrus. Oddly, he was not concerned about parents allowing their children to have unsupervised access to the computer with no filtering apps to protect the children.
After the myopic decision by Schneider, Tempel sent out the following tweet, simply announcing that the administration vetoed the song:
My first graders were so excited to sing Rainbowland for our spring concert but it has been vetoed by our administration. When will it end? @waukeshaschools @DollyParton @MileyCyrus @mileyworld @gsafewi @CivilRights #publicschools pic.twitter.com/8Na0nETmDw
— Maestra Melissa (@melissatempel) March 21, 2023
As word got out, the school district started receiving a backlash about their bigoted decision. The backlash was so great that the school district superintendent, James Sebert, recommended that Tempel be fired to what amounts to allegations of insubordination. Earlier this week, the school board had a hearing on the matter and voted to fire her for drawing attention to their bigotry.
But it will be probably a Pyrrhic victory for the district. They just opened themselves to a big, old First Amendment lawsuit. Per Tempel’s lawyer, Tempel made the social media posts when she was on her own time, and that the posts were not part of her duties as an employee of the district. This makes it a Free Speech issue.
To summarize, the school district retaliated against Tempel when they received blowback on their own bigoted policies. But instead of the most rudimentary self-inspection, they blamed Tempel. It seems an awful like when an abusive partner blames the victim with “Look at what you made me do!”
I certainly hope that Tempel stays strong make sure that they are held accountable for their own misdeeds.
Oh, and by the way, in case you were not familiar, this is the song that the school district has their collective undies in a bundle over:
Wisconsin School District Fires Teacher Over A Song
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