Milford School District adds hate speech policy

Terry RogersEducation, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Milford School District Board of Education passed a new hate speech policy (Photo courtesy of Jon Tyson Unsplash)

Milford School District Board of Education approved a new policy forbidding hate speech on school campuses. The policy passed without any discussion among board members.

“We feel that as a district we need to have a policy in place that specifically addresses hate speech,” Superintendent Dr. Kevin Dickerson said. “This policy denounces and prohibits the use of racial epithets and slurs, giving us a mechanism to deal with incidences of hate speech when they occur in our schools.”

The new policy states that racial epithets and slurs as to national origin create a disturbance in the educational environment, outweighing legitimate educational purpose. In November 2022, a boy’s bathroom at Milford Central Academy was vandalized with racial graffiti. A student posted photos of the graffiti which showed foul language as well as racial comments. At the time, the district expressed that they were disturbed by the incident and that they were working with Milford Police Department to investigate the matter.

With the new policy, hate speech is forbidden in schools, no district property as well as school buses. It is also forbidden where children wait for buses as well as at any district-sponsored or district-sanctioned program or activity. The policy will also cover any transmission of hate speech using district computers, their network or other electronic school equipment.

“When racial epithets and slurs as to national origin occur off district property or through transmission of information from a computer that is accessed from non-district property,” the policy reads. “If the words or language causes a substantial disruption to the educational process or the orderly operation of the school. This may include, but is not limited to, prohibited communication disseminated through social media, chat groups and email, with a nexus to the school.”

In addition to restricting hate speech to be used in schools or on school property, the policy also forbids the use of curricular materials that contain racial epithets and slurs as to national origin unless approved by both the Director of Student Learning and Supervisor of Equity and Support Services. When context requires reference to hate speech, abbreviations or culturally aware substitutions will be used.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of hate speech should report the matter to a school administrator or staff member. Administrators, staff, students, visitors, parents or guardians who violate the policy shall be subject o sanctions commensurate with the offense as determined by the Superintendent or another administrator designated by the Superintendent.

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