School board chair Candy Olson confirms Florida Family Association’s assessment, says “…it is highly unlikely that a teacher would invite CAIR..”
Florida Family Association issued an email alert on February 23, 2012 which stated that based upon certain facts that CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) officials would not be addressing students at Hillsborough County Schools in Tampa Florida anytime in the near future.
The Hillsborough County School Board discussed again on February 28, 2012 how to respond to the public outcry over a high school teacher allowing CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) officials to make presentations to students.
The school board’s statements and actions (inactions) made during the February 28, 2012 meeting confirmed Florida Family Association’s assessment of victory and further documented that it is highly unlikely that this board will vote to approve a policy that prohibits CAIR officials from addressing students.
Board Chair Candy Olson confirmed Florida Family Association’s assessment that CAIR officials would not be addressing students anytime in the near future. She said “I have to tell ya. I know you don’t like to hear that I trust our teachers. But I think it is highly unlikely that a teacher .. if a teacher chooses to invite a speaker in would invite CAIR right now. They don’t want to be the target of this kind of thing.”
School District Superintendent MaryEllen Elia prepared “a management directive” that “asks teachers to look for speakers recommended by the district, consult with their principals and refrain from inviting advocacy organizations.”
School Board Chair Candy Olson went on record numerous times to make it clear that this “management directive” was “NOT a policy.” She said “I am not at all sure this is a policy. What Ms. Elia and I talked about was a description of what we do.” When Tom Gonzalez, school board attorney, referred to MaryEllen Elia’s “management directive” as policy Board Chair Candy Olson quickly corrected him saying “Not a policy yet.” After which Gonzalez no longer referred to the management directive as a policy.
The school district plans to hold a workshop at a yet to be determined date without further public audience comment to discuss the possibility of shaping policy to address outside speakers. And what are the hopes for policy being generated at this work shop? Again, Board Chair Candy Olson said “I am concerned about what a policy would say.”
The Tampa Bay Times reported “a majority of board members agreed that Elia's guidelines can stand.” However, Board Chair Candy Olson declined to allow a motion on Elia’s “management directive” and polled the board members on their agreement to follow this directive until a workshop. Olson declined to take a vote thereby avoiding making this “management directive” a formal “policy.”
What’s the big deal about adopting a policy for determining who gets to speak to students? Lawsuits for those left behind. Much of what happened at this meeting was a tight legal dance which appears to have been lightly scripted and planned. No motions, no votes. Nothing official and clearly labeling a plan as a "management directive."
But the bottom line, as Florida Family Association reported as a victory on February 23, 2012 “it is highly unlikely that a teacher would invite CAIR right now. They don’t want to be the target of this kind of thing.”
Nevertheless, Florida Family Association made three more public records requests of specific teachers and board members in this school district on February 28, 2012 and will respond with further action if necessary.
Florida Family Association supporters sent over 10,000 emails to each school board member and the superintendent opposing CAIR in public schools. Your emails made a difference.
Click here to read the history of this issue at Floridafamily.org