I’ll leave the formalities to the CCSD.
We agreed on a fair settlement of mutual satisfaction. I won’t be teaching at Lincoln elementary anymore for it would be too disruptive. My name is clean and I will still be a professional educator.
It has been a distressing month for me and my family. Extremely interesting and saddening all at once.
I have to say, I will miss the children from the school, I know also they do, but I also know each one of their unique characters will remember me. I will be here exercising my art and my influence.
Thank you my friends from Cache Valley for bringing this situation to the light of the rational thinking progressive world. Let this be an example that we can create consciousness in this narrow minded societies.
Thank you for your words of support. Your message brought tears to my eyes. This is a very sad situation indeed. It breaks my heart to not be able to teach the children from the school anymore. To me, teaching them has been a fulfilling experience that I will always treasure. Your words and your effort to reach out to me helped me emotionally when I was feeling helpless and depressed, and for that I am deeply grateful.
Thank you for offering to help. You should know that I wanted to reply before, but given the changing events that led to my termination, I felt it would be better to wait until having more clarity about my situation. At this point, I would like to give you my account of events and ask you if I may take you up on your kind offer.
On Monday morning class, 12/4, the 6th graders worked with me on their color project in the art classroom. In the last few minutes of the class, they stepped over to the classroom library to choose art postcards that would exemplify the color relationships we were studying. The library had several art books and 8 boxes of postcards showing a wide array of artwork. These materials were provided by the school, had been there for years, and had presumably been used by students many times before. To my surprise, some of the postcards contained nudity. Some students expressed discomfort about some of the images, so I immediately took back from students the postcards I felt could make students feel uncomfortable. Then I explained to the whole class that art can sometimes show images that are not always comfortable to all, that art is better understood when placed in its proper context, that the human body is often portrayed in art, and that the images in the school collection are icons of art history and a patrimony of humanity. It seemed that students had felt confused at first but that my words helped clear up their confusion.
During the short break before my 5th-grade class, I removed as many of the postcards as I could that may potentially be deemed as inappropriate to the students. We need to understand that selecting what to remove is a subjective decision, and I did my best on the little time I had. It is also important to note that removing all of the postcards would not have helped much anyway, as later on Jenni and I noticed that the books too contained similar imagery.
The 5th graders worked on their color wheel, and once the first student was ready to start researching from the postcards, I gave everyone the same explanation I had given the 6th graders. I added that, if anyone came across nudity and felt uncomfortable, they could give me the material so they would not have to look at it any further. One girl found a nude and left it on my desk, as I had suggested. Incidentally, two of the students approached me about non-nude images: “Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp (an upside-down urinal) and “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Caravaggio (St. Thomas examining Jesus’s wounds after resurrection). I explained to both students the context of the images, and the class ended.
Later on Monday, Jenni emailed me worried about several parents’ concern about how I had handled the situation. I was put on a one-day administrative absence for Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Kirk McRae (School District director of HR) and Jenni met with me to talk about this matter. They told me they had decided to suspend me for two more days, and asked me to sign an addendum to my contract accepting the 2-day suspension and committing to not let this type of incident happen again. They wanted to move on, so did I.
On Thursday, a parent anonymously called the police and accused me of exposing the students to pornographic material. Even though I had agreed to the above disciplinary action, the district decided to let me go. In a Friday meeting, they gave me two choices: to resign, accepting their terms of my alleged wrongdoing (eliminating any possibility to voice my opinion in the future), or to be terminated with a scathing and defamatory letter. Frankly, neither option was agreeable to me. After I expressed my position it in a letter from my lawyer, the school went ahead with my termination, offering the possibility of a hearing if I felt they had acted in error. In the meantime, the police deputy officer had contacted me to let me know that I was not facing any charges.
The district’s terms of termination can leave a serious stain on my professional file (if you like, I can send you a copy of the dismissal letter). I am determined to fight their accusations and clean my name. I have excelled as an art teacher because of my honest, altruistic character. The students appreciate me because I open to them spaces for self-growth, creativity, and enlightened thinking.
Kamee, you and Isabella represent what I wholeheartedly believe in. I feel your voice ought to be heard as a parent and member of the school community. I will greatly appreciate it if you can help me garner support for my cause. I need witnesses who can attest to my character. This is a large process to undertake, and I will understand if it is too much to ask. Perhaps you could start a letter-writing campaign to the district, or you could contact other parents and teachers who may be willing to put a word on my behalf.
Please accept my deepest gratitude for your kindness and support. You and your family have given me hope. Please let me know if you would like to discuss this any further. Also feel free to share this letter with people you consider necessary.
Thank you so much,