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  • Fellow Editors

Wicomico County Public Schools Superintendent Supports Vulgar Teaching Materials

After a parent discovered some vulgar teaching materials used in Wicomico County Public Schools, the findings were presented at a board meeting as a public comment before the Wicomico County Board of Education. Months after the public comment, Superintendent Donna Hanlin responded on behalf of the board, when the response should have been from them directly. Nobody asked for her opinion. This is yet another example of interfering and overstepping her boundaries. A parent received the following letter from Superintendent Donna Hanlin :

The rigged Curriculum Council above consists of all biased faculty, administrators, and board members. A couple of people listed above have retired. It is hard to believe that our elected board members who serve on this Curriculum Council (Ann Suthowski, Allen Brown, and Tonya Lewis) approve of these materials. On their behalf, the Superintendent has certified their approval just by association. Although some on the Curriculum Council may have children, non-faculty parent-citizens are not included on the council. In addition, these materials were ordered by faculty prior to any screening or approval by the council. Now they are trying to do damage control, completely dismissing the fact that these materials should have never been ordered in the first place. The current Curriculum Council serves as an illusion, and by no means do they represent the people. This negligence must end.

The number one excuse in attempt to justify these materials being in the school is that students already see and talk about worse things on social media. This is an opinion that assumes that all students have a smartphone, have Internet, and are on social media. Yes, class peers talk about all sorts or things (inappropriate or not). That excuse is a deliberate attempt to miss the point - that a school system should not be a gateway to such. These people are responsible for teaching our children, and they find vulgar teaching materials to be wholesomely-acceptable literature. These irresponsible people are not fit to teach or lead, as they have no moral standards. This willful misconduct of administration and the board is in conflict with the school policy INS-SCH-PL-008. Their defiance is lawless.

The Supreme Court in Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico (1982) ruled 5-4 that public schools can bar books that are “pervasively vulgar” or not right for the curriculum. Books that people simply don't like are not grounds for removal. These materials are pervasively vulgar and not right for the curriculum. Were any parents even asked if these materials were vulgar and unfit for a school environment for which their child attends? No. Therefore, such materials should be removed if they are not aligned with any moral standards, code of conduct, and existing school policies. This is just one policy as an example (there are more).

Another excuse they use is that the book is not vulgar in entirety, therefore it's acceptable. If they take a Highlights for Children magazine and slip one page from Hustler Magazine into the Highlights for Children magazine, does that make the content acceptable in entirety? If these same adults believe that all students smoke marijuana, should the school system hand them a joint and light it for them? This reasoning and logic by those who oversee our schools is dangerously reckless.

The Curriculum Council or the Superintendent is not in any position to render a legal opinion nor do they speak for every parent or child. Ironically, they want to exercise their First Amendment right, while robbing the First Amendment right of the citizens who they are supposed to be serving. Administration and faculty are not elected by the people. The Wicomico County Board of Education is ultimately responsible and will be held accountable by the people.

On November 27, 2021 the Somerset County Times reported that the Somerset County Board of Education, a much smaller board actually gets it:

As parents, we should not have to explain appropriateness to grown adults who are entrusted with teaching minor children. These materials are available to WCPS middle school students as young as 11 years of age:

One must ask themselves, does critical thinking require vulgarity, and is it really necessary? This is not about suppressing critical thinking, banning books, or censorship. It's about simply preserving the already defined line of morality and upholding existing policies (which they seek to destroy). You can send an email or make a phone call to the current board members to voice your concerns over what they see as "appropriate" for your child. In addition, an election is coming up. They can all be replaced, and you the parent have the power to replace them. Enough is enough.

You can also sign this petition to help put an end to this.

WCBOE Board Members

Gene Malone -

Donald Fitzgerald -

Allen Brown -

John Palmer -

Tonya Lewis -

Michael Murray -

Ann Suthowski -

Fellows & Editors

November 27, 2021 Copyright

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1. "Monday's Not Coming" - Tiffany D. Jackson, 2017

2. "# MurderTrending" - Gretchen McNeil, 2018

3. "Persepolis" - Marjane Satrapi 2003

All copyright © information provided at no charge and strictly for educational purposes under the Fair Use Act.

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