Controversy in Southington Over High School Class Document

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A school controversy in Southington is getting national attention, and it centers on a handout that was given to students in a high school class.

Dozens showed up to a school board meeting on Thursday.

“We are in full support of our teachers and our children,” said Erin Cowles of Southington.

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Others have expressed concerns about a handout that a teacher recently gave to students in a tenth grade English class at the high school. It defined various terms that have to do with gender identity, equality and race.

“We don’t like teachers teaching outside the curriculum, especially controversial issues. We believe it’s a parent’s right to make a decision on what should be taught in the classroom,” said Susan Zabohonski of Southington.

“I support this teacher and all teachers in this district,” said Superintendent of Schools Steven Madancy.

The superintendent said an investigation was launched as soon as the district found out about the document.

“It’s very clear to us this teacher had no ill intent,” Madancy said.

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“I think a lot of teachers maybe knowingly or unknowingly disguise what they are teaching to children, and they are not letting parents know,” said David LaManna of Woodbury.

The board chairperson explained that the handout was not properly vetted.

“We look for this to be a learning opportunity for all. But I resent that a personnel matter regarding one of our teachers and our schools has been turned into a political platform by those who have non-educational agendas,” said Colleen Clark, board chairperson.

Some people think the district could do more to tackle difficult issues. We spoke with one student who said he’s been called racial slurs.

“They always preach that as a town, we are very inclusive and we should uphold diversity. But when it comes down to it and cases are reported, they are not taken seriously,” said Dante Napoletano, a Southington High School senior.

The superintendent said the teacher involved now realizes why some were upset with the document, and he’s recommending teachers collaborate with fellow staff to vet materials that could raise concerns.

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