(The Center Square) – Another Republican lawmaker at the Wisconsin Capitol is challenging the state’s superintendent of schools over her letter to Waukesha Schools about its “no politics in the classroom” policy.
State Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, on Monday accused State Superintendent Jill Underly of trying to bully Waukesha Schools.
“Superintendent @DrJillUnderly’s browbeating of the leadership of @waukeshaschools for following school board policy was over the line,” Stroebel wrote in a tweet Monday. “Regardless of one’s thoughts on the issue at hand, Underly’s actions were highly inappropriate and chilling to our foundation of local control.”
Underly last week wrote a letter to Waukesha Superintendent James Sebert saying she was “deeply troubled” by Waukesha’s policy that bans all politics in the school district’s classrooms.
“Whether you realize it or not, you are, under the guise of protection, causing undue harm to students and staff,” Underly wrote. “However, this damage is reversible. It is paramount that you change course now.”
Sebert spearheaded a policy before the 2021-22 school year that banned teachers and students from advocating for political causes in the district’s classrooms. The policy has led to a ban on flags related to gay pride, as well as bans on Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter flags.
Underly wrote her letter after Waukesha Schools placed a first-grade teacher on leave for continuing to insist her class sing the Miley Cyrus song Rainbowland at a recent school concert.
Sebert questioned whether it was appropriate for first graders.
Underly, in her letter, accused Sebert of “causing harm” to students and staffers.
“You can make a different choice. If not, I worry for the future of the Waukesha district in its ability to attract and retain teachers and educators in the future school years,” Underly wrote. “It is imperative you make sound decisions in the coming days.”
Sebert wrote Underly back, and said he is standing by his “no politics” decision.
“To meet these diverse student needs, we have taken consistent steps as a Board and Administration to ensure the focus in our classrooms and in our schools is one of academic rigor and achievement,” Sebert countered.
Waukesha’s Republican lawmakers also took issue with Underly’s letter.
“Instead of focusing on quality public education, Superintendent Underly has chosen to engage in stirring up political controversy without even taking time to understand the facts,” Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, said in a letter signed along with Rep Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and Sen. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield. “Is it any wonder that Wisconsin schools are struggling academically under her current leadership?”