TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

November 20, 2012

South Laurel teacher violates district policy

Political message written on board was ‘inappropriate’

CORBIN — By Magen McCrarey / CNHI News Service

A South Laurel High School teacher was found to be in violation of district policy when she wrote a defamatory statement on her white board.

The statement read, “You can’t be a Democrat & go to Heaven.”

A student in her classroom took a photo of the white board, turning it in to the Laurel County Board of Education and the Sentinel-Echo.

According to Superintendent Doug Bennett, the accused teacher, Kendra Baker, heard the statement from a student then proceeded to write it on her board. The statement was not a part of the curriculum or lesson plan and was a blatant opinion following the recent Presidential election.

“She wrote it on her own, and she wanted to write it on the board. She realized it was inappropriate,” Bennett said.

Baker is in her 17th year in teaching high school, and this is her ninth year teaching at South. Her courses include psychology, civics, world history, U.S. history, economics, and sociology. Since the incident, Baker’s statement has spread discord among students and parents via social media.

Baker was in violation of district policy No. 8.1353. The Student Code of Conduct states that teachers have the responsibility to maintain a classroom atmosphere conductive to learning, with mutual respect and trust, and be a model of a responsible citizen. In addition, the code specifies that teachers have the responsibility to develop positive self-concepts, self-confidence in order to respect the worth and dignity of others; clarify their values; and make choices that lead to responsible citizenship.

Upon the violation, school administration immediately investigated the incident and the concern was resolved. Bennett stated Baker was reprimanded following the incident by apologizing to her students.

“Our focus and mission is to do what’s best for students, and teachers are expected to exercise reasonable and prudent judgement. The teacher made a mistake and I believe the teacher regrets that,” Bennett continued. “We as educators have the freedom to campaign for political parties and candidates on our own time. However, this right does not extend to our work schedule.”

“Our objective is to teach the established curriculum.”

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