A North Texas middle school art teacher was put on leave after ordering yearbooks decorated with the slogans ‘Black Lives Matter‘ and ‘I can’t breathe.’
Kayla Mick, who works at Downing Middle School in Flower Mound, Texas, outraged parents with the two stickers, which were one of a number included on every yearbook given to students.
One of the controversial slogans was included in a larger sticker which read: ‘Science is real, Black Lives Matter, no human is illegal, love is love, women’s rights are human rights, kindness is everything;’ the other sticker was a closed fist with the words ‘I can’t breathe’ – a nod to George Floyd‘s dying words as he was murdered by Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis in May 2020.
‘I don’t feel like schools should be forcing anyone’s political views on anyone,’ one parent said, according to the local CBS.
‘There should’ve been a MAGA sticker and an “all lives matter” sticker on there, if they are going to put political stickers then balance it out,’ another parent said, according to CBS.
Those two stickers were mixed in with dozens of other stickers referencing recent events and pop culture, like the 2020 election, Baby Yoda, TikTok and popular games.
Two stickers on the back of the year book – ‘Science is real, Black Lives Matter, no human is illegal, love is love, women’s rights are human rights, kindness is everything;’ the other sticker was a closed fist with the words ‘I can’t breathe’ – riled parents up in North Texas
There were no complaints about the front of the yearbook (pictured)
The Lewisville ISD said in a statement that a teacher who has been placed on leave is not suspended.
They said they had taken the decision to place Mick on leave ‘to ensure we fully review the circumstances surrounding the design of the yearbook and that we have all the facts before any further action is considered.’
Even though Mick was placed on administrative leave, Principal Curt Martin sent a letter to parents last week saying he approved the sticker and takes full responsibility, WFAA.com reported.
In the letter, Martin said none of the stickers ‘evoked a political message for me, but rather a documentation of the issues we face as a campus, a community and a nation,” according to WFAA.com.
‘I absolutely realize some don’t share that view, including a number of Downing students, staff and families,’ he said. ‘For those with concerns, please accept my sincere apology for not considering your perspective on these stickers.’
The school is offering refunds for the yearbook as well as an alternate sticker that reads, ‘Be Happy, Be Bright, Be You.’
It can be placed over the controversial stickers to cover them up, meaning students and parents who were offended can still keep the book.
Kayla Mick, a middle school art teacher in Texas, was placed on administrative leave
In a statement from the Lewisville ISD, the district said Martin ‘successfully resolved concerns’ over the yearbook and honored the comments from both sides of the situation that allow families to choose a yearbook cover that best represents their views.
Supporters of the art teacher circulated an online petition that garnered over 3,300 signatures by Friday afternoon.
‘The action taken by the district sends the wrong message to our students,’ the petition says. ‘Censorship in journalism simply because you disagree with the content is not only unacceptable, it’s dangerous.’
Carissa Neunherz, 13, who was one of the students who worked on the yearbook, told CBS, ‘To me this just showed “oh this has what happened over the year, this happened and that happened” so I found nothing wrong.’
The battle playing out in North Texas middle school is a microcosm of a the debate raging across the country over critical race theory the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of New York Times’ 1619 Project.
Its opponents claim the theory indoctrinates children into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.
They argue it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Four states – Montana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Idaho – have banned critical race theory from school.
A handful of other states — including North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia — are currently debating, or in the process of approving, similar bills.
Three Republican-led states have now signed laws banning critical race theory in public schools and nearly a dozen others are currently trying to pass similar bills that block or limit it from becoming part of curriculums
CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.
The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.
The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.
Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.