NAPLES, Fla. Two organizations are urging the Collier County Public Schools to forgo having classes in session on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Showing up for Racial Justice SWFL, an organization aiming to stopping racism and white supremacy, provided a statement asserting their opinions on the school district’s district’s ruling.
“The decision to hold classes on MLK Day over the clear objections of the NAACP and out of step with other counties affected by Irma, shows a blatant disregard for the history of racism and the dignity of all individuals who struggle for justice,” the organization said in a statement.
The district assigned makeup days for the remainder of the school year after Hurricane Irma caused students to miss approximately two weeks of classes. One of those days included the federal holiday on Jan. 15. Classes were held on Veterans Day, and are also scheduled for Presidents Day.
The NAACP previously filed a complaint. Show up for Racial Justice SWFL said it took issue with the school district’s new makeup day policy, according to the organization.
“This isn’t about a school day, it is about the dignity of us all and the struggle to live in a just society,” Show up for Racial Justice said in a statement.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for December.
View original article click HERE
The Collier County NAACP filed a complaint with Collier County Public Schools on Saturday over the School Board’s decision to hold class on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 15, to make up for academic days lost to Hurricane Irma.
The decision was made at the Sept. 26 School Board meeting, which was held at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administration Center.
The complaint was also emailed to all five School Board members.
“We are extremely disappointed with this decision,” the complaint reads, noting 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination.
The revised calendar originally proposed by CCPS did not include MLK Day as a makeup day. However board members said they’d received complaints from parents and teachers about the district’s proposal to hold school on the first day of winter break.
School Board Vice Chairwoman Erika Donalds said the board did the best it could given the difficult circumstances.
“The primary feedback I got was to keep the large breaks the same — Thanksgiving, Christmas and the end of the year,” she said. “If there were other holidays we could’ve pulled from we would have, but this was really the only thing we could do.”
The School Board voted unanimously to hold school on MLK Day, Presidents Day, the first day of spring break, a teacher professional development day and a teacher planning day.
The district’s only hurricane day, Nov. 10, which is Veterans Day (observed), had already been set aside to make up for the flood day in August.
The board also advised there be programming on MLK Day, Presidents Day and Veterans Day to commemorate those holidays, to which Superintendent Kamela Patton agreed.
NAACP President Vincent Keeys said he thinks the School Board should extend the two half days leading to winter break to accommodate for MLK Day.
In the event the board rejects his proposal, Keeys said he asked the board to gear instruction on King’s assassination day — April 4 — to the teachings of the civil rights leader.
“Here’s a man that gave his life so that we could have equality,” Keeys said. “And I believe that should be taught constantly — not just on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but every day.”
When asked about the legality of holding classes on a federal holiday, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Meghan Collins did not provide a clear answer.
Local reports indicate other states have opted to hold class on MLK Day following major storms, such as after the polar vortex of 2013.
Florida State Board of Education member Tom Grady was also unable to speak to the legality of the issue but said considering King’s struggle to ensure equal access to education, holding classes on MLK Day would be an appropriate way to honor his legacy.
“He lamented the achievement gap, which, sadly, has only worsened since his death,” Grady said.
To use this as an opportunity to educate all children “is something I’m sure he would appreciate and welcome under these circumstances.”
Executive Director of the ACLU Florida chapter Howard Simon said he, too, was not sure of the legality of holding classes on a federal holiday.
At the very least, Simon said, schools should dedicate a considerable portion of the day to commemorating what the holiday is all about.
“I don’t think students can understand the culture and the country they are growing up in unless they learn about the historic struggle that continues to this very day to include all groups in the promise of equal treatment,” he said.
From before the time America was born, to present, the struggle for equal rights for all minority groups has served as the primary characterization of our nation’s history, he said.
“That is too fundamental a lesson to ignore.”
The Collier County School Board is questioning its decision to hold school on Martin Luther King Day after hearing a dozen complaints from community members at Tuesday’s board meeting.
The School Board voted unanimously at the Sept. 26 meeting to hold school on MLK Day, Presidents Day, the first day of spring break, a professional development day for teachers and a planning day for teachers to make up for academic days lost to Hurricane Irma.
The board upheld its decision at an Oct. 10 meeting after the Collier County NAACP filed a complaint with Collier County Public Schools. The complaint cited the NAACP’s disappointment with the School Board’s decision to hold classes on the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination.
Naples resident James Whipple addressed the board at Tuesday’s meeting, urging the board to reconsider.
“I’m asking you nicely — don’t do it,” he said. “You’re hurting the kids, you’re hurting the community, and also, you’re hurting me.”
Naples High teacher Cynthia Odierna said King’s message is too relevant to ignore.
“(His message) is not obsolete,” she told the board. “I don’t want students to think this was a thing of the past.”
Collier NAACP secretary and MLK Day parade organizer Diann Keeys also attended the meeting. In an interview, Keeys said more than 1,200 students marched in the parade last year.
“Since I started doing the parade five years ago, I have centered it around the students of Collier County,” she said. “What am I going to do now that the kids have to go to school?”
Keeys said the situation is “heart-wrenching,” but she’s hopeful the School Board will reconsider.
“We cannot let go,” she said. “Dr. King never let go, so I have to keep trying to get the day back.”
Keeys’ husband, NAACP President Vincent Keeys, echoed his wife’s optimism. He said he had gathered more than 1,100 petitions calling on the School Board to keep MLK Day as a holiday.
A version of the petition on Change.org has received 460 signatures.
In a news release sent Monday, the Southwest Florida chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice said the group has “deep concerns” about the message the board conveyed with its decision to hold school on MLK Day.
“Refusing to observe MLK Day signals that the civil rights movement is over, all battles have been won, and MLK is a leader from the distant past whose relevance has waned,” it read.
At Tuesday’s meeting, School Board members Stephanie Lucarelli, Roy Terry, Erick Carter and Kelly Lichter said they would be willing to revisit the issue at the December meeting.
“Nobody on this board was trying to ignore this holiday,” Lichter said. “There were some great points made tonight.”
However, board member Erika Donalds stood by the board’s prior decision and said she was offended by some of the public’s comments, particularly those that insinuated the board had ill intent.
“For someone to say that we’re hurting kids by having them in school? And teaching them? That’s harsh. I don’t agree with that,” she said.
“This was about helping children and making sure they get the instructional time they need and deserve after missing two weeks of school,” she said. “I think we did the very best we could with what we had.”
The next board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12 at Immokalee High School.
MLK Day will be Jan. 15.
NAACP Press Statement
October 09, 2017
Florida State Conference NAACP Responds to Collier County School Board’s Decision to Not Observe Martin Luther King Day.
What have we come to when those the Collier County School Board apparently listened to in reaching its decision preferred to maintain the district’s long winter break rather than sacrifice one day of that long winter break to maintain MLK’s birthday as a school holiday in 2018? An observer from another country, or another galaxy (for Star Wars fans), might find it a puzzling and untimely choice given the challenging state of race relations in this country at this moment.
Indeed, in signing H.R. 3706, Public Law 98-144, the bill making the birthday of MLK a national holiday, President Ronald Reagan noted that Dr. King had awakened something strong and true, a sense that true justice must be colorblind, and that among white and black Americans, as he put it, “Their destiny is tied up with our destiny, and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom; we cannot walk alone.” But President Reagan also recognized that traces of bigotry still mar America. So, each year on Martin Luther King Day, our nation has decided to honor Dr. King by setting aside a day each year to remember him and the just cause he stood for. Let us not only recall Dr. King, but rededicate ourselves to the Commandments he believed in and sought to live every day, “Thou shall love thy God with all thy heart, and thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The danger in the school board’s action is that Collier County Public Schools, along with other school districts who opt not to recognize MLK’s birthday as a holiday, sets a harmful precedent not only internally but for others as well. After a while, and before we even know it, the exceptions swallow up the rule, and the principle is lost in a sea of pragmatic, comfortable excuses.
For questions, please contact Adora Obi Nweze at 305 915 4701.
Adora Obi Nweze
To make up for the school closures during Hurricane Irma, the Collier County Public School Board has unfortunately decided to not honor the national holiday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year. Instead of respecting the holiday originally instituted by President Ronald Reagan, and giving our public school students a day off to learn about America’s greatest civil rights leader and to celebrate and reflect on his teachings, the Board has selected it as a school make-up day.
We feel that this decision is both unwise and unnecessary. Unnecessary, because Lee, Broward, and Monroe Counties have all managed to spare MLK Jr. Day in their revised scheduling.* Collier County is surely able to do so.
Unwise, because this decision is causing deep disappointment in our community. Unwise, because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., won worldwide respect alongside other non-violent human rights giants such as Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela for seeking peaceful solutions to his country’s problems. Rightly honored for his commitment to the effectiveness and humanity of non-violent resistance, he led by example, putting his own life (and those of his followers) on the line in the face of violence and racism in Selma and elsewhere. Later, in Washington, DC, hundreds of thousands of Americans gathered to hear his famous “I have a Dream” speech in front of the reflecting pool in the National Mall, where he called for non-violence and laid out his a vision for a utopian, post-racist America inspired by service: service to children, service to community, service to people of all colors, inspired by the Biblical injunction to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Several years later, he would speak out strongly against both the war in Vietnam, and against what he saw as the epidemic of poverty in communities of all colors across our nation.
Dr. King’s vision – his call for jobs, for universal healthcare, and for a stop to endless military intervention – is, sadly, as relevant as ever. And, in the wake of Charlottesville and rising ethnic and racial intolerance, his legacy of non-violent resistance is as every bit as crucial now as it was in 1963. Now is not the time to stop honoring Dr. King’s legacy.
Naples has a proud tradition of holding day-long learning events, parades and celebrations to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In support of the appeal by the Collier County NAACP, the undersigned respectfully petitions the School Board to maintain MLK Jr. Day as a school-wide holiday by selecting another workable solution to make up lost school time. One option that the Board might wish to consider is to reschedule January 2nd as a teacher planning day and have the students return on January 3rd.
Lee County: October 16 – Professional Duty Day becomes a regular school day. December 19-21 – Early Dismissal Days become regular school days. December 22 – Professional Duty Day becomes an Early Dismissal Day. January 8 – Hurricane Makeup Day becomes a regular school day. March 16 – Professional Duty Day becomes a regular school day. April 2 – Easter Monday becomes a regular school day. Source
Broward County: On October 3, 2017, The School Board of Broward County unanimously approved utilizing two previously scheduled early release days – October 19, 2017, and December 22, 2017 – as makeup days for Hurricane Irma. There are no changes to winter break, spring break or the last day of school. Source
Monroe County: All Early Release Dates for Professional Development (dates vary by region) become Full Student Days. October 16 – Teacher Planning Day becomes Full Student Day. November 10 – Veterans Day (observed) becomes Full Student Day. January 8 – Teacher Planning Day becomes Full Student Day. February 19 – Presidents Day becomes a Full Student Day. March 9 – End of Third Quarter Teacher Planning Day becomes half-day for students. March 30 – District-Wide Early Release Day becomes Full Student Day.
To sign the petition please click HERE