Substitute rant causes major backlash

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By EMMA SIMMON

A couple of weeks ago on November 21, national news sources exploded with the story of a substitute teacher from Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills who asked her class of fifth graders, “What are you thankful for?” When one of the students, Daniel, replied that he was “thankful that I’m finally going to be adopted by my two dads,” the class never would have expected the following ten-minute homophobic rant from the substitute.

The unidentified substitute claimed that “homosexuality was a sin” and “why would you ever be grateful for that?” Following the incident, three female students in the class walked down to the office to report the substitute to the principal where they then took control of the situation. Kelly Services, the substitute management service, has said the woman will no longer be employed at any of the schools it has a contract with.

 Ben Rasmussen, the Director of law and Professional Practices at the Utah State Board of Education spoke about the fired substitute in an article posted on December 3 in The Salt Lake Tribune.

“There is no statewide database for substitutes who have been fired or reprimanded…So there’s no easy way for other districts in the state that don’t work with Kelly Services to know who the woman is or to be advised not to hire her,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

On November 22, Louis Van Amstel, one of the fathers of Daniel, spoke publicly on Twitter in a 1-minute post about the situation,  titling the post,“Our child was bullied.” He’s since tweeted more about the situation,further tweeting on the same day, “I’m truly disgusted that the bully in this situation is a teacher in a public school,” and hashtagging the post #allfamiliesmatter.

    BASD Director of Human Resources, Mrs. Michelle Simpson explained how incidents like that would be handled here, and how tolerant BASD is to diversity within the district. Mrs.Simpson explained the very lengthy training process that the substitute staff receives.  

“Before our staff starts working here, we host a whole lot of training, such as suicide, transgender, and LGBT+ awareness, mandated report training. We also make sure everyone working here has all their clearances and background checks that we are actively updating every five years,” she said. “We make sure that our staff knows that every student that comes to us is unique, and how no one should be discriminated against.”

According to Mrs. Simpson, BASD has asked a substitute not to return to the district.

“Kelly [Services] provides a service to us,” Mrs.Simpson said. “They provide substitutes with their own training.”

   So what should students do if they experience and uncomfortable situation with a substitute here at Bellefonte?

“If you see something, come forward so we can deal with it,” Mrs. Simpson said.