The Black Lives Matter banner displayed on the fence of the South Whidbey High School tennis courts has once again come under scrutiny from members of the community who have raised concerns about the intent of the organization.
In addition, a high school social studies teacher has been accused of trying to influence students with his political beliefs.
A letter to the South Whidbey School Board signed by 38 people mirrors some of the concerns in a correspondence recently sent to the Oak Harbor School Board. Both raised alarms about schools allegedly indoctrinating students in political ideas and were signed by leaders in the Island County Republican Party.
The South Whidbey letter written by resident Stina Wenzek was sent to the school board and posted online. It criticizes a teacher, Mark Eager, and includes links to a recording of a Zoom class.
A day after the capitol insurrection, Eager told students that then-president Donald Trump was lying to them. In his attempt to paraphrase Trump’s tweets, he left out a few words.
“I believe that when appropriate, political discussions can be educational in the classroom as they allow students to develop their critical thinking skills and express themselves in a mature manner,” Wenzek wrote in her letter, which has so far garnered 37 signatures.
“Those debates, however, should only voice the sociopolitical opinions of the students, not teachers. It is not a public school teacher’s job to indoctrinate students with their own personal beliefs.”
Eager said in an email to the Record that he had already met with the school administration about the matter.
“First of all, I take full responsibility for my actions and missteps,” he said. “Second, I would like to assure her (Wenzek) and the community that my class is not politicized, let alone ‘indoctrinating’ students.”
Eager raised concerns about Wenzek “spreading misinformation” in the rest of her letter, which focuses on the school district’s Black Lives Matter banner. He said his attempts to contact her have not resulted in a response.
Although Wenzek condemned racism in her letter and affirmed that Black lives matter, she said the school district had not done enough research on BLM and falsely claimed Susan Rosenberg, who was found guilty of possession of explosives, was a founder and board member of the organization.
“Many are alarmed that the district proudly supports a Marxist, anti-family, violent organization, ‘BLM,’” she wrote.
Brook Willeford, a member of the South Whidbey School Board, responded to Wenzek’s letter on behalf of the board.
“Teachers were instructed to stick to the facts in regards to current events and not to insert their own opinions,” he wrote. “Any disciplinary action taken in regards to this incident — as with any other incident — will remain between the teacher and the district. All personnel matters — such as discipline for a teacher — are brought up before the board in executive session, usually immediately preceding or following a board meeting.”
In addition, he pointed out that the statement “Black Lives Matter” has been determined by the Federal Office of Special Counsel to be non-partisan and non-political, and one that is in keeping with the mission and vision statements of the school district.
Willeford even fact-checked some of Wenzek’s statements, pointing out that Rosenberg is not a board member of BLM.
In an interview with the Record, Wenzek said the Black Lives Matter banner is not her main concern, “it’s allowing a teacher to push their political agenda on the students.” She added that students with opposing political views feel silenced, which can cause bullying, especially in a small community such as South Whidbey.