After derogatory remarks towards gay teacher, Visalia school board member resigns


Administrator Christopher Pope nominates his top three candidates to fill the vacant Visalia Unified Area 4 position.

Visalia Unified administrator Christopher Pope resigned at Tuesday’s school board meeting after making “negative comments based on sexual orientation” this summer towards a teacher at Golden West High School.

Originally, the board was going to censor Pope; however, he resigned before the board discussion. The council, behind closed doors, accepted his resignation 6-0.

“I sincerely hope that this is the opportunity to [Pope] to understand that what he did was wrong, what he said was hurtful and inappropriate, and the actions he took to defend himself at my expense were shameful, ”said Ben Cummings, the teacher to whom Pope’s comments were intended. “I don’t believe he’s a bad person but I also think you can’t double your bad behavior without suffering the consequences.”

Upon his resignation, Pope apologized to Cummings as he sat in the crowd. He said he wanted to extend an olive branch to move forward.

“I would first like to thank my constituents for believing in me and for electing me as administrator of zone 6. It was an honor. It is with sadness and a lot of prayer and soul-searching that I submit my resignation, ”said Pope. “I want to publicly apologize for hurting this individual. It is not my character. It’s time for the board to get back to business, it’s best for our children. “

Cummings said Pope’s resignation is a chance to bring more attention to student struggles across the district.

“I am sad that this has happened, but happy that Mr. Pope has made the decision to allow us to move forward without the distraction of what is hanging over the board,” Cummings said. “However, I also think it’s important for this story to be told because it’s the starting point for us as a district to move forward and make the changes we need to make. to support all of our students.

Cummings approached the board of directors in June, asking them to review his proclamation recognizing Pride Month. Later that month, Cummings and Pope met for lunch to discuss the proclamation at Pope’s request.

“I met with a teacher to discuss his proposed proclamation of June as Gay Pride Month in the Visalia Unified School District. I proposed that VUSD honor, celebrate and thank the staff, teachers and students who are part of it. from the LGBT community. Since that meeting there have been tensions in our community,

said the Pope. “Basically it’s ‘he said this, no he said this.’ I’m the first to admit I’m not perfect and … there should have been a mediator at this meeting. “

Following: Trustee investigates potentially ‘damaging’ remarks to Visalia teacher

The board has not considered adopting a pride proclamation since Cummings presented a draft in early June. Board chairman Juan Guerrero told the Visalia Times-Delta that the proclamation was missing from the late June agenda because the district was working on wording for the resolution.

He hopes we can come to an agreement on something soon.

Cummings called for a task force to be formed to help VUSD and the board better understand the struggles facing the LGBTQ community. The fiduciary Jaqueline Gaebe proposed the creation of a working group. Administrator Megan Casebeer Soleno agreed with Gaebe and requested that student voices be included in the working group.

Several people spoke on behalf of Pope, elected in 2020. He beat Lucia Vasquez by just eight votes.

Pope was born in Dinuba, raised in Orosi, and graduated from Orosi High School, according to the district. Prior to joining the Board of Directors and teaching at Visalia, he ran the family business Pope’s Propane Service.

The board of directors will be responsible for replacing Pope. This is the second time the board has been forced to fill a vacant board seat this fall.

This is a developing story.

Lauren Jennings covers education and news for the Visalia Times-Delta / Tulare Advance-Register. Follow her on Twitter @lolojennings. Receive alerts and stay up to date on all things Tulare County for as little as $ 1 per month. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: After derogatory remarks towards gay teacher, Visalia school board member resigns

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.