The Mansfield School district deserves a big fat F for the way it's handled the controversy swirling around LGBT elementary school art teacher Stacy Bailey. For at least seven months the district has failed to resolve the situation surrounding the popular teacher, ultimately bringing unwanted national attention to a district that's often known success in the classroom.
Bailey has been placed on administrative leave since September for allegedly talking about her sexual orientation with students at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School. By banishing her from the classroom administrators have shocked Bailey's colleagues, who have voted her teacher of the year at the school not once, but twice. Many parents also are unhappy.
Then, last week, the Mansfield School Board further confused the situation by renewing Bailey's contract while saying her case is under investigation. The latest turn in this twisted case came as some Mansfield teachers press for a change in the district anti-discrimination employment policy that will make it clear the district is not anti-LGBT. Bailey had talked to administrators about adding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees before being suspended.
The Mansfield district needs to end its investigation of Bailey soon. Leaving the teacher's status in limbo hurts her and the students who would benefit from her acclaimed teaching. It sends a message that the district for some reason doesn't know how to address LGBT issues.
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Surely administrators and board members know there are other LGBT teachers and students in Mansfield. They may not have the same high profile, but they are looking for a signal that the district will be inclusive.
Resolving this case with a public explanation will end some of the speculation. It's also time to adopt an anti-discrimination policy that includes the LGBT community .
Fort Worth and other urban districts already have done this by including language in local policies that protects teachers from discrimination because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Mansfield and other suburban school districts need to recognize they have valued employees who deserve an environment where they can work without fear.
Bailey has been called a role model for other educators. Florence Bruner, a parent, told the Star-Telegram, "There are two things we hope for the most — one is a teacher whose love of the subject inspires students, and the other is a teacher who cares deeply for our children. Stacy Bailey without question is both of these."
But not every parent is happy with Bailey. At least one complained Bailey was trying to indoctrinate youngsters when showing them a collage of her family that included a photo of her wife. Administrators eventually met with Bailey about parental rights and age-appropriate conversations regarding topics of religion, politics and sexual orientation. Bailey insists she's done nothing wrong.
We don't know what really happened but it's about time we did.
It's past time for the Mansfield district to turn in its Stacy Bailey assignment. Right now, its failing its students, teachers and community.