GRPS hears complaints from multiple citizens about Critical Race Theory

GRPS hears complaints from multiple citizens about Critical Race Theory

By Scott Bidroski

The Gordon-Rushville Public School Board held their regular meeting on Tuesday, October 12. The meeting began right at 6:00 p.m. with all members being present.

Those members are President Sherry Retzlaff, Dave Johnson, Candie Johnson, Zach Kearns, Ross Janssen, and Kathy Willnerd.

The meeting was declared properly publicized and the agenda was accepted.

Public Forum was opened with 7 members of the public expressing their opinions.

Charlie Hamilton from Gordon was the first patron to speak before the Board. Hamilton told the Board that he has multiple questions but he is under the impression they cannot answer.

At this point, President Retzlaff offered to any patrons that would like to discuss subjects further than the 3 minutes allotted in the meeting, that she would be open to meeting at a different time. 

Retzlaff directly told Hamilton that she can not answer his questions during Public Forum but would glad to do so at a different time.

Hamilton continued that he understood that the questions could not be answered but he wanted to voice them to the Board and the persons in attendance.

Hamilton asked a series of questions to the Board. Hamilton said he has heard rumors about some of these subjects in regards to being taught at the school.

He wanted to know if we are teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) or multiple numbers of genders in the classroom? Also, he wants to know if the school supports the Black Lives Matter movement or do they support the All Lives Matter movement?

Hearing that these subjects may be taught in our school district is discouraging to him and he wonders if our school is teaching children to go down the wrong path. 

Joe Headrick spoke next during Public Forum. Headrick asked the Board if they were aware that the FBI has been asked to mobilize against anti-CRT parents? Headrick also mentioned he needs to get educated on the details of CRT because he feels we are all being deliberately being kept off balance and confused.

Headrick then read a letter from Matt Ennis in regards to the opening on the Nebraska State School Board for District 5 and his desire to fill that spot.

Jason Gantz spoke next in the Forum. Gantz is also concerned about GRPS students being taught about CRT and infinite genders. Gantz categorizes what is being taught and happening to the kids as child abuse.

Gantz thinks that is insane that the chain of command needs to start with the teacher. He feels that it is unfair to the teacher to field these complaints.

Gantz also spoke about the rumors that students and parents who have spoken up against these teachings have been targeted with negative repercussions. 

Sean Felkins spoke next. Felkins is also concerned that the teachings of CRT have been creeping into our District.

Felkins does not agree with the CRT teachings and believes that it would be harmful to the education of the children.

Jason Funk spoke next in the Forum.

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Conr children not be indoctrinated with CRT. He feels that it is anti-American and anti-Christian and they don’t need to stand for it in our schools.

Funk feels like there is a lack of action in regards to complaints. He states there are lots of complaints, sometimes verbal or written and all are valid.

Funk states that parents do not come forward because they are full of fear and intimidated. They are afraid their kids are going to get ostracized, bullied, or have their grades lowered. Funk claims to have spoken to so many parents over the last few months about this.

Funk also stated that the District will wait the parents out, dragging out the endless chain of command. He believes that 80-90% of these issues could and should have been dealt with.

Funk believes it’s time for people to stand up and share what they feel because they need to protect our children.

Amy Lefler spoke next in the Forum.

Lefler stated that she does not need to put her name on the list to speak during Public Forum.

She also stated that this is way that has been made so the public can come and talk to you, not over coffee, it is business.

She is also upset because she asked for this meeting to be moved downstairs and everyone is packed in the Conference Room like sardines.

Lefler is upset with the verbal warning that is given when there is 30 seconds left in the 3 minutes allotted. She would like someone to give her a sign instead.

Lefler addressed the Board with a question of if they knew why she was given a no trespassing order?

She asked everyone to look at the Board and stated that it’s sad.

She wants to know what do we do this for? Lefler stated that the Board does not have current policies, they don’t follow the ones they have, and you get through the chain of command for what? To get you to follow one of your policies. 

Lefler also stated that the Board can write laws now.

Lefler then stated that she will be taking up her entire 3 minutes  of time.

She then stated that Board member Zack Kearns is the only  member who sincerely looks interested.

Lefler hopes that everyone sees what she sees, that they are not welcome here and nothing gets better. She claims that the Board does not have to do anything and they don’t have to follow their own policies.

Lefler continued that people downtown tell her that she cussed, yelled, and threatened people here and that is why she has a no trespassing order. She claims that never happened.

Lefler then asked if the Board follows laws anymore? 

Lefler stated that she thinks its fun to watch you guys almost choking, it’s like you can’t stand it.

Chuck Hinn was the final citizen to speak.

Hinn thinks that it is very sad that the Board has to sit up there and get demoralized. He stated that he has been on this Board before and he knows that they are not hiding anything and are trying to do the best they can as an elected official.

Hinn believes that if someone has an issue they should take advantage of the invitation to meet with Board members directly to discuss it further instead of what has been happening tonight.

Celebration of Excellence was next on the agenda.

Retzlaff presented the Board with several thank you cards that were delivered to them.

The Board also recognized a grant given to the Gordon-Rushville FFA from WESTCO for $10,000. Also, a grant Healthy Schools grant for $10,500, which marks the fourth year in a row.

Building reports were up next on the agenda. Misty Curtis presented her report to the Board first.

The Rushville Elementary Book Fair will be held on Oct. 12 -19. There will be family book character painting contest, which will be displayed.

Private donor funding was provided so students will be able to pick out a book for free up to the cost of $7.

RES has one related health related case and the school is checking temperatures and doing extra cleaning, trying to keep everyone safe.

For the Middle School, they have had some influx of students from neighboring schools who have switched to online only schooling. This is creating a challenge for the staff as they are trying to figure each situation which is unique to each student.

The staff is trying their best to provide the education and fill whatever gaps they can when they are in the GRMS building.

Nathan Livingston gave his report for the High School next.

The High School has added 3 new students this past week. Livingston acknowledges that some of influx is from neighboring schools.

Livingston said the schools are doing their best to line up the curriculum for all subjects so students can transition smoothly from grade to grade.

He said they had about a 50% attendance at parent-teacher conferences. Livingston said they would love to see more parents but that the numbers are not far off where they usually are for attendance.

Apply for College Day will be on October 20. Every senior will be required to apply to one college to learn the process and know how it works, whether they decide they want to go college or not.

National Honor Society induction will be October 28 at 6:30 p.m. and the Annual Veteran’s Day Program will be November 11 at 1:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. 

Mr. Mills presented his report next.

He recapped the latest sports happenings at GRHS and GRMS.

Mills mentioned that there are 34 student participating in One Act this year and Director Ryan Lovell is excited to get started.

Speech and Quiz Bowl are preparing for their upcoming seasons with both teams having higher numbers this year.

Unified Bowling has also begun with their first competition on October 25.

Ms. Lori Liggett then gave her Superintendent’s Report.

Audit was done at the end of September with results most likely coming in November.

A new website and remote notification system is coming for the School District. This is being paid for by utilizing ESSER monies. The new system will allow access to more than just one member, helping ease the process of posting to the school’s web page and social media pages. By the push of one button, the information will post to all the pertinent places.

Comparable schools utilizing this service are Mitchell and Gering Public Schools.

Liggett next presented some literature to the public about the Strategic Plan and discussed what is included in the paperwork.

Liggett did mentioned she will break up the document and will be sending it to the Journal Star for print in the newspaper along with posting it on the website for patrons to look over and understand the plan.

After the Superintendent’s Report, the Board approved the Consent Agenda.

This included the approval of the minutes from the Budget and Tax Hearings from the previous meeting and the finances and paying of bills.

There were no discussion items on the docket for this meeting.

In the action items section, the Board approved the Annual Multicultural Education Report.

The Board then discussed the time of the future meetings. After a bit of discussion, the Board decided to move the time to 5:30 p.m.

Action item C was a correction to a clerical error made by the GRPS office. It corrected a mistake on the September Financial Report.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 8, 2021 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:03 p.m. with no further business being discussed.

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