Employees of a Georgia school district known for its diversity of refugees and migrants – legal and illegal – are being told not to express themselves on or off campus if their views on immigration line up with those of President Donald Trump.
If their words are considered not “welcoming” of refugees and migrants, they will face investigation and possible termination.
DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Stephen Green issued the statement after Trump’s executive orders banning travel temporarily from seven Muslim countries. In it, Green delivered a stern warning to teachers and staff: Any comments made inside or outside the classroom must line up with the school district’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.
The statement, issued Jan. 30, is the second such warning Green has issued since Trump’s election and since two teachers were forced to resign, one in November and another in December, for allegedly making comments disparaging of illegal immigration in the presence of students and staff. The teachers reportedly told illegal-alien students they would be deported under Trump, but the teachers say their comments were bent out of context.
Green is now taking it a step further, warning teachers not to inject their personal beliefs into the classroom if they line up with those of the president of the United States.
Green told a local newspaper, the Champion, that his Jan. 30 statement sought to grant students assurance that DeKalb County Schools officials remain committed to being “culturally responsive, diverse and supportive” of DeKalb County’s immigrant population.
“Our schools will be safe places for learning and teaching,” he wrote in the statement. “We will not tolerate any form of bullying or discrimination on or off district property that interferes with learning or the rights of others.”
The term “bullying” apparently now applies to social-media posts of a political nature that agree with Trump policies, a legal analyst with the nonprofit Liberty Counsel told WND.
Besides the termination of the two teachers at Cross Keys High School in DeKalb, a staff nurse at nearby Cary Reynolds Elementary school was investigated for alleged anti-immigration comments she posted on Facebook, the district confirmed.
High school is 1 percent white
Cross Keys High School is located in the wealthy, mostly white Brookhaven area of Atlanta. But the school itself is 80 percent Hispanic, 11 percent black, 6 percent Asian, 1 percent white and 1 percent other races, according to district data.
Most parents of students at Cross Keys speak English as a second language, “if at all,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Students in DeKalb County Schools come from 180 countries and speak 140 different languages. Green said he wanted to “make sure all our principals and teachers clearly understand” the district’s position, specifically regarding immigrants and refugees. No pro-Trump immigration rhetoric will be tolerated, on campus or off.
“We are hearing a lot of conversation right now, some of it extreme, about how residents originally from outside our country should be treated,” Green said in his statement. “We have 102,000 students here. They come from more than 180 countries, and they speak 140 languages. We value them; we love them and we respect what their presence here says about the goodness and generosity of America – our diversity is our strength.”
“We have expectations for our teachers,” Green added. “Even though they have personal feelings, they have to realize that they have an audience who’s watching them and counting on them.”
Diversity is ‘welcomed’ as long as it’s anti-Trump
Michele Bachmann, former congresswoman from Minnesota and a presidential candidate in 2012, said the DeKalb superintendent is unrelenting in his determination to shut down free speech.
“‘Diversity’ in public schools means mandatory conformity to the Marxist left’s anti-American politically correct views,” Bachmann said. “The penalty for diversity of opinion, to him, is expulsion.
“This is the ultimate in thought police,” she added. “No one hates freedom of thought, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship more than the politically correct left.”
“They have contempt for our immigration laws and no tolerance for traditional values,” Bachmann said.
“America rejected this anti-American, lawless open border policy at the ballot box in November.”
Pro-Trumpers becoming second-class citizens?
Robert Spencer, a best-selling author of books about Islam and editor of the Jihad Watch blog for the David Horowitz Freedom Center, said the pattern is becoming clear in just the first few weeks of the Trump administration: Oppose Trump policies or be relegated to the sidelines of the education establishment.
“It seems as if agreeing with Trump on immigration is being equated with ‘bullying’ and ‘intimidation.’ The left has for years been working to stigmatize any dissenting opinion and to treat it is if it were self-evidently beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse,” Spencer told WND.
“With the election of President Trump, this endeavor has reached absurd proportions, with half of the American electorate being treated by all too many in authority, such as these DeKalb officials, as if we were pariah on the par of the KKK, to be shunned by all decent people. This is as baseless and hypocritical as it is frankly fascist.”
A lawsuit in the making?
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said Green could be inviting a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds related to free speech.
“I understand the need to make sure there is an atmosphere of respect and to make sure students are not bullied; nobody wants to be bullied. However, I think you can go too far with the diversity agenda, which doesn’t respect free speech,” Staver told WND.
“We don’t know exactly what these teachers or the nurse said. All we know is they are labeling it anti-immigrant. It’s one thing to call certain categories of immigrants names, but it’s another to say you’re in favor of the temporary ban on refugees and we need to protect our borders,” he said.
“Knowing the kind of atmosphere we’ve seen since the inauguration of President Trump, what I suspect is happening is the superintendent is enforcing a very rigid, politically correct, liberal ideology. He’s imposing a very politically liberal ideology on the school environment and wanting to squelch any opposing viewpoints that favor the policies of the president.”
Extending restrictive rules to off-campus speech is even more egregious, Staver said.
“Teachers and public officials do have First Amendment rights and they do have the right to comment on issues of public concern, and immigration is a matter of public concern because it is in the realm of public discussion every day on the news,” he said.
“It could be a lawsuit in the making because they have a First Amendment right to speak, especially in their private life on issues of public concern.”