The Howell Public Schools Board of Education and Superintendent Ron Wilson are taking the low road and attacking a teacher in the media because he is bringing unwanted media attention to the school by fighting his suspension.
Last month Howell High School teacher Jay McDowell, who just happens to be the president of the Howell Education Association (HEA) that represents the teachers, was suspended for one day without pay because he sent two students to the office for disrupting his class. The incident occurred Oct. 20; the day people all over the country wore purple to support the end of anti-gay bullying that led to a rash of suicides by gay teens. Apparently, McDowell asked a student wearing a belt buckle sporting the Confederate flag to remove the symbol of racism, slavery, white supremacy and treason.
McDowell, rightly, has protested the suspension and the attack against him, and it has gained support of people all across the country. They have shown up at school board meetings to support McDowell, and that led Wilson to make the false claim that the media is to fault and that the only people supporting McDowell are outside the Howell community.
That’s simply not true, and as a Howell resident with grandchildren in the district, I’m happy to have a teacher at HHS who will not tolerate bigotry, hate and injustice. Last week Wilson and the school board took the rare action of attacking McDowell in the media by releasing selected statements by students in the class, but the statements released were the only ones that shed McDowell in an unfavorable light.
The district has gone as far as to accuse McDowell of bullying by refusing to accept bad behavior from a student.
One such student who defended McDowell was 14-year-old Graeme Taylor, an openly gay student from Ann Arbor, who came to McDowell's defense at a recent school board meeting. He talked about his traumatic experiences at a school where being gay is much more accepted than at Howell, yet Wilson and school board members want to dismiss it because he is not an HHS student. The video of his speech spread like wildfire, and he will appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today.
The HEA defended McDowell on Friday, and the HEA specifically singled out Wilson, school board President Debi Drick and board Trustee Wendy Day, “saying the aggressive nature with which they are attempting to malign McDowell's character is deeply troubling.”
I have to agree. The board has a pronounced anti-union bias, and Day has both a rabid anti-union and anti-gay bias.
In fact, it was Day’s anti-gay bias that brought her the attention she craves. No one had ever heard of her until her and her partner, Vicki Fyke, formed an anti-gay hate group known as LOVE (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) because the HHS diversity club dared to tolerate gays. That attention helped her win a seat on the school board where her rhetoric divided the community and gained the district even more negative national press with an unsuccessful book-banning crusade.
Her anti-union stance is well known, and she conspired with the late rightwing anti-union activist Chet Zarko to embarrass the union with a witch-hunt for emails to embarrass union leaders. On her “blog” – although it can no longer be called a blog because she no longer allows anyone to question her warped views - she calls for McDowell to be fired. Of course she would love to see the president of the hated union go down, but she reveals her real reason for her hatred of McDowell.
“Once again our community is at the center of the culture war,” wrote the person who has embarrassed this community more than anyone since KKK Grand Dragon Robert Miles. “It is time the good people of this community stand up and fight back against the social progressive agenda.”
The district wants to blame the media for doing its job, but they are making sure the local media has their side of the story. Today, the latest wrinkle is that Wilson has turned over e-mails he perceives as threatening to area police.
According to the Daily Press & Argus, “Wilson last week said the district has received more than 1,000 e-mails since Oct. 26 from people outside the Howell community. He said he feels it's ironic the people who say they oppose violence and bullying are using these same tactics to intimidate district elected officials and staffers.”
Wilson continues with the false theme that it is just people from outside the district who support McDowell. There is also no way anyone can interpret the emails as threatening. Are they threatening to blow up or shoot up the school? No, they are simply telling the school t stop discrimination.
In fact, even Wilson admits the emails are not illegal, yet he clings to the fairy tale that they “felt threatened by the tone and content of the e-mail.” One email threatened to publicize the district's discrimination.
Wow, they should feel scared.