Here’s a bizarre story from South Brunswick, New Jersey: A middle-school teacher got in trouble for posting a photo of President Bush in her classroom — and not discussing her politics with students and parents.
Parents e-mailed an assistant principal accusing (Shiba) Pillai-Diaz of suppressing free speech because the teacher refused to talk to pupils about why the color photo hung in the room.
“Students said, ‘You like George Bush? He’s killed people,’ ” Pillai-Diaz said. “As a rule I don’t talk about my politics in the classroom.”
According to Pillai-Diaz, Assistant Principal Mark Daniels said he had no problem with the photo, which hung next to posters of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. But Daniels told the teacher she should address questions that arose because of the photo.
“He wasn’t giving me the power to direct conversation in my classroom,” said Pillai-Diaz, who regarded the picture just as an image of the current president.
At Back to School Night, a parent asked about the photo, a debate broke out among parents and the assistant principal told the teacher to take down the photo. She walked out.
Here’s more from the New York Post.
When she refused (to take down the photo), the matter was taken up by the principal, Jim Warfel, who Pillai-Diaz said accused her of “causing disruption and hatred” with her “inflammatory politics” and told her to “get out” of the building.
The principal told the Post that Pillai-Diaz had not been fired. No report yet on whether she’s back to work today.
Update: Digger’s Realm reprints the superintendent’s claim that Pillai-Diaz was told to take down the photo because students and parents complained she’d been using class time to promote Republican politics. It’s now a he-said-she-said stand-off, though she’s clearly right in saying the superintendent didn’t want her to talk to the media.