School harassment policy OK’d
Sexual orientation now included as a protected class
After 10 months of revision and five of public debate, including prayer sessions, picketing and petitions, the West Bend School District has an updated harassment policy. The School Board approved the policy at its third reading Monday night on a unanimous, 6-0 vote. Lightning rod items that fueled debate were including “sexual orientation” alongside religion, race, creed, ethnicity and others in the protected classes portion of the policy; the lack of a mention of parental involvement in harassment cases, and the claim the policy violated First Amendment rights.
On Monday, Maziarka told the board the policy is good “but only for some,” in addressing the list of protected classes. It is not “all encompassing,” she said. “What will happen to the rest of the kids if they are harassed?” Maziarka asked the board to add more generalized statements from the district’s old sexual harassment policy.
Parental notification of harassment cases happens “as soon as practical,” Zarling said. Some community members had told the board they don’t like the “practical” standard and want parents in the process sooner. Board member Kris Beaver said some instances of harassment can be handled in class with a teacher explaining to a student what was said was wrong. It’s not practical in those cases to stop class and notify a parent. Board member Mike Weston said while most of the opposition is against homosexuality and thus opposes listing the sexual orientation class, all harassment is not accepted. Board member Bruce Koenig addressed the notion that sexual orientation is a choice and not a trait. “If you’re going to pull (sexual orientation) out of there, then we need to pull religion and creed out of there as well,” he said. Koenig said the policy is not about the board members’ personal beliefs. “We as a board are doing what is legal and correct for this school district,” he said. Board member Todd Miller was absent and excused.
The Administrative Rule clearly confirms what we have been saying all along...that the harassment policy is ONLY for the protected classes of students. The school board has broken the trust of the taxpayers, parents and students in the West Bend district. Bruce Koenig's statement was the most disappointing of all. He commented that if we remove sexual orientation, then we will also remove creed and religion. Period. He is treading a fine line of morality with a statement like that. West Bend is a conservative community that has spoken. Our elected officials have chosen not to listen. We will all be reminded of this in January when Kris Beaver and Mike Weston come up for their incumbent seats.