Durango 9-R School District plans to update facilities policy – The Durango Herald

School district to clarify how property can be used, distribution of literature guidelines

The Durango 9-R School District is reviewing its facilities and flyer distribution policies to clarify how school district property and communication channels can be used. (Durango Herald file)

The Durango 9-R School District says it is “tweaking” its policies regarding the distribution of literature and the use of district properties so community members have a better sense of how school grounds can be used for different activities, including politics.

Earlier this year, La Plata County Commissioner candidate Jack Turner was denied permission to use school district property to collect ballot signatures. The school district cited its flyer distribution policy in denying permission, which opened up a discussion about 9-R’s policies regarding political activity on campus.

Turner was allowed to collect high school signatures during his 2020 campaign. But it was done at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when approaching strangers on the street was seen as a health hazard. public.

Additionally, 9-R had a different superintendent at the time, and different administrators may interpret and apply policies differently, said district spokeswoman Karla Sluis.

“We focus on learning and education, and that’s our main job in the community,” Sluis said. “Anything that’s a distraction from that, or that’s inconsistent with our mission and values, is something we choose not to allow in our schools or through our communication channels.”

Sluis said the district is updating its website so the public has a better understanding of how school buildings and properties can be used, as well as how outdoor literature can be displayed. and distributed on school grounds. With respect to the distribution of literature on campus, existing policy considers the educational nature of the information, whether the information is appropriate, whether the information or activity is enriching for students, and whether the information is used for profit.

“If we allow a political candidate, in the interests of fairness, we must also invite and allow all other political candidates,” Sluis said. “Otherwise, there seems to be approval among a particular person.”

Part of the district’s flyer policy states, “All printed materials distributed in schools will NOT promote, promote or oppose the candidacy of any candidate for election, the adoption of any issue of obligation/budgetary or any public matter that comes before a general, county, municipal or school board election.

With respect to political activity on campus, the school district’s facility use policy states that the district has the right to deny facility rentals for any reason. Sluis said the school district does not promote agendas, political affiliation or religion. The facilities policy is being updated to make the rules for using 9-R property more specific. However, nothing has been finalized.

“It will be the same wording as on the circulars policy,” she said. “I don’t see us changing the way we’ve defined exceptions to the rule.”

Sluis said she wants the political language to be consistent, so it’s similar whether someone is handing out materials or hosting events on campus.

Regarding inside the classroom, controversial political issues should be discussed in advance with the principal and assessed to see if they fall within the curriculum standards under the 9-R policy. , which is established by the school board.

The policy also states: “When teaching on controversial issues, teachers may express their personal views and opinions; however, they also have an obligation to be objective and to present the different aspects of an issue impartially. Controversial issues should be presented with good judgment and in coordination with the building manager, keeping in mind the maturity of the students.

“I would say our teachers, their curriculum is to teach politics, not to teach one way or another, and to give kids a really safe place to decide what they believe. And don’t force one view or another,” Sluis said. “I mean, that’s the whole point of diversity, equity, inclusion – is it open, right?”

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