Another Update: According to the District's Communication director, there was an "issue" with the video, so they took it off the website while they update it. Look for it after 2pm today. (Updated 11:28am)
The video is back up from the School Board now. (updated 2/22/2013 5:50)
As has been reported over the last week on this blog, East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota held a school-wide presentation honoring the violent, militantly socialist group, The Black Panthers on February 14, 2013. Parents were appalled by the idea that a group so unabashedly Marxist and founded by convicted felons, Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, would be "commemorated" by the school for Black History Month. The story has been reported on by several news outlets from local TV, radio, newspapers to national online and radio (2/14/13) media outlets.
Last night, at the South Washington County District 833 School Board meeting (video Item 2.0), the concerned parents were allowed to voice their objections to the presentation. Two parents, Steve Ellenwood and Lelani Holstad, spoke about the nature of the Black Panther Party and why it was objectionable to have the group honored in the way it was on Feb. 14: Mr. Ellenwood said it was "paramount to indoctrination" and Ms. Holstad ripped the Board for allowing the school to go against its own bullying policies by endorsing the violent Black Panthers. She also discussed the more recent incidents involving the New Black Panther Party, including the voter intimidation in the last two elections, the "hit" the group put on Zimmerman (in the Trayvon Martin case), and more. Both presentations were well done, heart felt and seemed to have swayed at least one Board Member because following the parent presentations, Board Member Ron Kath told the audience that the Board and the Superintendent were aware of the issue and that they would be investigating it. Then, just prior to the next agenda item, Superintendent Keith Jacobus broke in saying that he had spoken to Principal Harper about the issue and that the issue was closed (among other things, including justifying the commemoration of The Black Panthers by students). Effectively putting the blame not on the teacher, Ms. Tishanna Brown nor on Mr. Harper, but on the students for the presentation.
Did not the SWC 833 hire Dr. Jacobus? Are they not his boss? Do Jacobus and Harper believe that their lame excuses will just make this issue go away? East Ridge High School has many issues, this is just one of them. A perusal of tweets from ERHS kids (some of whom definitely seem to have been involved with the commemoration of the Black Panthers), shows that not only did Mr. Harper directly "protect" Ms. Brown and the involved students but also that there is a disconnect between the students (mostly minority) and the school community: it is obvious that all the emphasis on diversity has done nothing more than cause the children to see themselves as a separate group from the rest of the ERHS student body (language warning):
The School Board has been given the Twitter information as well as the much of the information about the Black Panther Party that has been presented on this blog over the past week and the lesson plans from Ms. Brown's ClassJump website (see link above). I would hope that the information would pique their interest and cause them to step up and behave like the so-called District leaders they are supposed to be before they allow the new Superintendent to just sweep this issue under the rug.