(The Sentinel) – Students at Clark Middle School in Bonner Springs, Kansas can familiarize themselves with the issues involving gender identity pronouns with this school-approved wall poster now on display:
USD 204 Superintendent Dan Brungardt defended the district’s action in approving the poster:
“The USD 204 Board of Education passed the following policy last year which has been included in the USD 204 Teacher Handbook:
“Materials displayed in and around a classroom are generally considered instructional materials and must comply with board policy. They may be selected by the classroom teacher but should be grade-level appropriate and align with the subject-matter being taught. Materials or displays not meeting these criteria are subject to removal by the principal. Classrooms are not public forums for the display or distribution of political, religious, or personal viewpoints. Employees may not use classrooms for the posting or display of materials to promote or convey a political, religious, or personal message.
“Board of Education members received this policy from the Kansas Association of School Board Members as part of bi-annual policy updates and district administration requested its approval. At the beginning of this year, the Superintendent visited each building and reviewed the policy with staff. The goal of this policy is to focus classrooms on instruction which is based on the Kansas State Standards.”
Social media reaction was overwhelmingly negative when the poster was displayed on Facebook, but the superintendent says none of it has reached his desk:
“I have not received a complaint about this issue and neither has there been a complaint registered at the school building. If you could possibly ask the individual who provided this information to you to call the building principal or myself it would be greatly appreciated.”
We also reached out to all seven USD 204 board members who in July unanimously approved the 2023-2024 policy included in the Teacher Handbook of which Superintendent Brungardt spoke. None of them responded.
Brungardt didn’t say to which subject matter the pronoun poster was related, as specified in the board policy. One must wonder how many math and reading posters exist in the district, however, because student achievement is low and declining.
In 2015, 24% of Bonner Springs students were below grade level in math, and 27% were proficient. Now, 38% are below grade level and 25% are proficient. In English Language Arts, the share of students below grade level jumped from 26% to 38%, while proficiency dropped from 36% to 27%.