Exclusive: Letter instructs #WCPSS teachers how not to violate student privacy with ‘Diversity’ lessons

On the heels of public outcry over highly controversial assignments asking deeply personal information from students, a letter penned by two Wake County Public Schools outlining the legal parameters for what teachers can and can’t include in “diversity” lessons was obtained exclusively by this website.

The letter opens citing “recent media reports” involving the Diversity Inventory worksheet at Heritage High Schools and that “there has been some public discourse over the past week regarding an assignment at one of our schools.”

“Recognizing that there may be questions that arise from this issue, we believe it is important to share some information and guidance that may be helpful to you,” says the letter, which is co-written by Drew Cook, the Assistant Superintendent for Academics and Dr. Rodney Trice, Assistant Superintendent for Equity Affairs.

The pair says that they “value the efforts of teacher leaders who each day are creating learning experiences that promote inclusion, honor students’ differences and unique identities, challenge stereotypes.”

Trice and Cook add that “These core beliefs are foundational to the work outlined by our Vision 2020 Strategic Plan.”

In addition, the letter says that “We equally value the rights of students to maintain their privacy and engage in conversations of identity, self, culture, and other personal topics only when they are comfortable doing so and when appropriate to achieve outcomes outlined in the NC Standard Course of Study.”

The letter then outlines the federal law for the Protection of Pupil Rights, which parents and groups have alleged Heritage High teacher Melissa Wilson violated on two separate occasions in “diversity” themed assignments.

The inclusion of the Protection of Pupil Rights is likely a direct result of the NC Values Coalition’s clear objections to the Heritage High assignment, as the group is considering legal action against the district and specifically cited those protects in their press release.

Included in the letter which went out to all Wake County teachers, was the district’s Board Policy 2305 Code of Ethics and Standards for Conduct, teachers which says, in part, that teachers “are responsible for the education of students and also serve as examples and role models to students”.

The letter says that “appropriate discretion should be exercised when deciding whether or not to share your own personal information and opinions while carrying out official duties as a school employee” per board policy and state codes of conduct for educators.

“Use of supplemental materials may require approval of the principal or designee prior to use in the classroom, as outlined in Board Policy 3200 Selection of Instructional Materials,” state Trice and Cook in their letter.

READ THE WHOLE LETTER:

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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