Exactly two weeks into the new school year, and already one Troup County school felt the heat of controversy Thursday. Parents and grandparents took to Facebook to express their outrage after students came home from Long Cane Middle School with photos of a board featuring president Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”.
News 3 placed a call to the school around 11 a.m. to ask if the principal and staff were aware of the classroom display and caregiver complaints. By 11:30 a.m., we received a call back from Principal Chip Giles that they had identified the 8th grade Georgia Studies teacher’s classroom where the campaign slogan was displayed and by lunch it was taken down.
“What I think is important to understand is that this display was also among others depicting past presidents and the current serving president. The class does go over a section on the federal government,” says Yolanda Stephen, the Director of Communications for the Troup County School District.
However, she goes on to say while it is perfectly appropriate to hang a photo of and learn about Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, using a campaign slogan or political endorsement is inappropriate for a classroom.
“We don’t want to bring in those political views that could be divisive. We know that our parents and our students have different opinions, they have different concerns, and they have different sensitivities,” Stephen says.
The Troup County School Board Policy states:
“Schools shall not be used as a means of distributing literature for commercial, political, or religious purposes.”
Principal Giles also expressed to News 3’s Mikhaela Singleton he views all parents and students as members of the Long Cane Middle School family. He says he would never want any person to feel excluded because of political beliefs.
Both Principal Giles and Director Stephen say they hope all parents and caregivers will take advantage of their open doors to voice their concerns.
“We care about our students and what they learn. We care about the environment that they learn in. We want it to be a safe learning environment, we also want it to be an open environment. So if there are concerns, we like to know those so we can make changes if that’s necessary,” Stephen says.