A Georgia school board has voted to fire a fifth-grade teacher for reading to her students a book about gender identity that the district says violates its policies and state law.
Due West Elementary School teacher Katie Rinderle, who has been on furlough for over a month, was fired in March for reading the book ‘My Shadow Is Purple’, which features a non-binary persona and challenges the concept that there is only two sexes.
The Cobb County School Board voted Thursday in a 4-3 decision to end Rinderle. This comes after last week’s dismissal hearing. Earlier this week, a court recommendation from three people overseeing the hearing ruled in favor of Rinderle keeping his job, but the school board had the option of accepting or changing the recommendation.
“The board came in and, in an act that can only be construed as a political act about politics, fired Katie Rinderle. We think it’s inappropriate, there’s no justification for it.” , Rinderle’s attorney, Craig Goodmark, told Fox 5 Atlanta.
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Although the Cobb County Superintendent recommended Rinderle be fired, the court ruled that she only violated two of the three policies the district says she violated.
“I am disappointed in the district’s decision to fire me for reading an inclusive and affirming book — a book that is representative of diverse student identities,” Rinderle told Fox 5 Atlanta. “The district sends a damaging message that not all students deserve to be affirmed as their unapologetic and authentic selves. This decision, based on intentionally vague policies, will result in more teachers censoring themselves from fear of not knowing where the invisible line lies will be drawn Censorship perpetuates evil and students deserve better.
Rinderle said during last week’s hearing, which was initiated under a state law that protects teachers from wrongful dismissal, that her students chose the book from several options she gave them. has proposed. “My Shadow Is Purple” was purchased by Rinderle at a recent school book fair.
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The district argues that Rinderle violated its rules and Georgia’s new Divisional Concepts Act which prohibits teachers from using controversial topics in their teaching. Parents complained about the book after learning it had been read to their children, leading to Rinderle’s initial firing in March.
The Cobb County rule banning instruction on controversial topics was passed last year after state legislators passed the Dividing Concepts Act and created a Parents’ Bill of Rights to give parents more say in raising their children.
“She loves being a teacher, she’s dedicated her life to education and helping children, so she’s disappointed it turned out that way,” Goodmark said.
Goodmark said they plan to appeal the school board’s decision. Rinderle’s dismissal can be appealed to the state Board of Education and to the courts.
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The school board’s decision comes as parents and Republican lawmakers across the country attempt to remove books on LGBTQ+ topics from school curricula and libraries.
“This is one of the earliest incidents we know of, but it’s not the only thing happening in Georgia, teachers are self-censoring,” Goodmark said.
District officials said at the hearing that Rinderle should have known the books were a sensitive area after parents once complained when she read ‘Stacey’s Extraordinary Words’, a picture book about a bee spelling by then-gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who was running as a Democrat. .
Rinderle argued that her manager had read Abrams’ book, told her there was nothing wrong with it, and that she would deal with complaints.