Bluffton-Harrison school board makes changes to policy regarding Pride flag

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BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) — Ahead of Monday’s Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District’s (BHMSD) school board meeting, Superintendent Brad Yates released revised policies surrounding displays of “controversial matters.”

Back in August, the BHMSD board held a special meeting discussed a policy on how to handle “controversial material” in its classrooms during a special meeting.

The issue comes after a Pride flag was hanging on the wall of eighth-grade science teacher Beve Balash’s classroom at Bluffton Harrison Middle School drew “parental concern” that forced the district to seek legal counsel.

At the special meeting hundreds of parents, students, educators and Bluffton residents attended. After hours of public comment, the board approved policies that could limit what is posted in the classroom.

Thursday, Superintendent Yates sent WANE 15 the updated drafts of both policies.

The first was the change to the title of ‘Controversial Issues.’ With the new draft the words ‘instructional practices for’ were added. Below you can compare the first draft and the updated version.

The second policy relates to classroom posting. In the new draft, the following paragraph was added.

“For purposes of this policy, a classroom posting is considered any material presented in the instructional environment in a fixed or mobile capacity, which may include, but is not limited to, posters, signs, flyers, graphics, or bulletin boards. The term does not include personal items-such as family pictures-placed on the employee’s desk or other personal space that are meant to be viewed by the employee, rather than the students.”

This paragraph replaces the final line in the first draft and better explains what a teacher can have on their desk.

Below you can compare the first draft and the updated version.

Regardless of any upcoming policy decision by the BHMSD is working to create a group that will discuss, consider, and recommend options related to “access, equity, diversity, acceptance, and success.”

Members of the group include county and city leaders, church pastors, therapists, social workers and Bluffton-Harrison employees including Balash.

The group will meet “regardless of any upcoming policy decision by the school board.” The first meeting for the group will be the week of Sept. 20.

On Monday the BHMSD school board will work on the final language of the policies during the board meeting.

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