Earlier this week, USD No. 480 school board members met to discuss their decision to open the microphone for students, and the changes that were made should not be conveyed as revoking their position.
We live in a very litigious society, and many groups love to comb the headlines looking for a potential lawsuit.
The changes made to the recent motion were necessary to allow students to have the freedom to express themselves with a message prior to athletic events without the fear of the district being sued.
This is not only an important step for legal purposes, it is a big step for the adminstration to establish trust with its students.
The new rule allows students to have access to an open microphone that will be broadcast on the stadium’s speakers.
They cannot use profanity or bully, but students are free to provide a message of their choosing as long as they are appropriate for the event.
The students will be chosen at random and in good standing.
Basically, the statements are up to the students without being pre-approved by district representatives.
This is a bold step.
Moreover, it takes the separation of church and state out of the issue and becomes a practice of free speech.
While we believe this move could have, and should have, been handled in the open, the end result is a good one, and it reflects the values of our community by allowing local students to share a message they choose.
If a student has faith, then there should not be an effort to prevent them from sharing a message, if that is what they choose to do when exercising their free speech.
The Leader & Times supports the board in implementing this opportunity for our students to share a message of their choosing prior to athletic events. It is our hope that the community will support the move, and the students no matter what message they may choose to share.
While a disclaimer will be attached to the message indicating its independence from the district, students would not have been given the opportunity to express themselves freely without board involvement and support.
In the future, before changes are made by administrators that have an impact on the community and its traditions, it might be wise to seek the opinion of the school board to explore all options.
No one has all the answers, and even if they have good ideas, seeking advice from elected officials can help build bridges with the community rather than burning them.
It appears the board is trying to correct some of these unilateral decisions. Let’s hope this effort to unite the district with the community continues.
It might be something all believers can add to their prayers.