A meeting room was crowded on Tuesday night in Avon, all because someone sent out the wrong email to parents in the district.
Avon Interim Principal Tim Breslin said he accidentally emailed a Huffington Post article to Avon High School parents about how educators should discuss the presidential election with students.
The essay included critical statements about Donald Trump, saying “Remind them - to ease their minds - that not everyone who voted for Donald Trump did so because they believed the bigoted things that he has said this year."
Breslin said it was an honest mistake and claims he only used the article as a resource for a speech he was giving at an assembly and that he meant to send parents the speech and simply included the wrong attachment.
“My immediate reaction after being notified by Dr. Breslin himself was that he clearly did not intend for his draft comments and thoughts to be released,” said Avon Superintendent of Schools Gary Mala.
Mala is standing by Breslin, and the majority of parents who spoke at a meeting on Tuesday night also support him.
“We all do that all the time. He apologized right away,” said Sudha Vimal, of Avon.
“I can't tell you how many emails that I send out that are mistakes. And I'm lucky because the grown-ups that get them forgive me and understand them,” said Nicole Leavens, of Avon.
But others disagree. They believe wading into this divisive political debate in any form shows a lack of common sense.
“My issue really is what I think is poor judgment on the part of a public official whose supposed to be working for all of the students all of the town,” said Mark Jackson, of Avon.
Breslin later did later send an apology and his speech transcript to parents. Some parents also accused Breslin of plagiarizing the article. The superintendent disagrees. To read the full article he references, click here.
School officials did not release the original email that was sent to parents to Eyewitness News.
Transcript of the speech Breslin said to students:
I was away for most of the day yesterday, but when I returned, I heard that a small number of students had made comments in the aftermath of Donald Trump's victory in Tuesday's election that some of you found unusually inappropriate or bigoted, or even threatening. If this happened to you or in your presence, I am deeply sorry.
As citizens of the United States, we will of course accept the outcome of the election. As you know, this is one of our most sacredly held democratic values. And another value, equally sacred, is that we do not tolerate bigotry. Bigotry is clearly not a democratic value. And as I am sure you understand, your teachers, tutors, custodians, cafeteria workers, and every other adult in our school, and I will not tolerate bigoted comments or bigoted actions. Needless to say, you as students must not tolerate them either.
Please know that there is always room for disagreement, particularly with respect to matters of governance and politics. And high school must be a place where we discuss these disagreements honestly and candidly without fear of reprisal. As you know from your history, our country has experienced far more intense disagreements than the ones that have emerged in this campaign. And as you also know from your history, we have survived and in many instances grown stronger as a nation as a result of our facing these disagreements and attempting to settle them. Now, as it happens, we are in a moment of deep disagreement in our nation, and there are many things to disagree on. But let us agree on this:
Bigotry is not a democratic value. To the contrary, what is perhaps the essential democratic value in our great democracy is our tolerance of each other and our tolerance of our differences, no matter how deep they are. And just as that spirit of tolerance requires that not only do we accepts the results of Tuesday's election, that same spirit requires that we honor each other in our understanding of and care for each other. In this high school, it requires that we stand by each other. That we stand by our Muslim friends. That we
stand by our Black friends. That we stand by our Hispanic friends. That stand by our friends of evel}l nationality, ethnicity and religion. That spirit requires that we stand by our friends from same-sex parent families. That we stand by our disabled friends. That we stand by our trans-sexual friends. That is Avon High School. That is who we are.
Please understand that as your principal it is my responsibility, as well as the responsibility of evel}l adult in the building, to ensure that evel}l one of you feels welcomed, honored, and respected here. But you, as young men and women on the brink of adulthood, you have that same responsibility. We are here to learn from each other, to listen to each other, and ultimately to understand each other. We are in this school to learn how to solve conflicts and to learn how to live with diverse and sometimes conflicting opinions and ideas. We are not here to threaten, intimidate, or hurt each other. Far to the contrary, we are here to protect and support each other. And a critical part of that support is to learn to disagree with tolerance and respect.
We must demonstrate in every one of our words and every one of actions that we fulfill our duty of care for each other. And we must consider it our obligation to speak up or tell an adult whom we trust when we see or experience hurtful, bigoted behavior.
I want you to know- whether you are gladdened or disappointed by the outcome of Tuesday's election - that I have faith that you will be respectful of each other and of each other's opinions. And that you will always keep in mind that the critical ingredients of that respect are tolerance, understanding, and kindness.
Thanks so much for listening.
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