The Iowa Standard has been covering the events that took place at Peet Junior High in Cedar Falls in late September. Mr. Bill Boevers, the school principal, approved a “kindness” event that turned into a gay pride event on school grounds.
Janelle Darst, the district’s communications director, said the event, as it took place, was not expected nor approved.
“It became something different than ‘show kindness,'” she said. “We have reviewed how we can and will handle situations like this better in the future and something like this/or similar will not take place again.”
Kendra Wohlert and Sen. Eric Giddens were seemingly the organizers of the event, even though the district says a student-led group named “Difference” asked for approval.
Giddens resigned from the Cedar Falls School Board earlier this year after winning a special election for the Iowa Senate.
According to a concerned parent who talked with the principal on the day of the event, counselor Theresa Kenser approached Boevers about having a welcome everyone, back-to-school sort of thing.
“(Boevers) admitted he knew this would be a rainbow-themed thing,” said the parent. “He denied having any coordinated efforts with the senator or with Wohlert.”
The Iowa Standard asked the district for more details on the group “Difference.”
“Group started this school year,” Darst said. “Students don’t need to register to be part of it, don’t have numbers.”
When asked if there is history of political activity taking place on school grounds during school hours, Darst simply responded “no.”
According to Darst, Mr. Boevers did not grant permission to adults who are not employed by the district permission to conduct political activity on school grounds during school time.
Permission for the event was given orally from Mr. Boevers.
In video captured by a concerned parent, Wohlert says she is a teacher. According to her Facebook page, she works at Southdale Elementary as a vocal and general music teacher.
The district, though, says she is not employed there.
The parent says he hopes the school OK’d this. Wohlert says, “they sure did. They sure did approve it.”
Wohlert followed by saying
“I’m also a teacher.”
As the parties enter the school office, Wohlert says they’d like to talk to Mr. Boevers. “It’s an emergency,” she added.
When Mr. Boevers appears, Wohlert claims the event was enormously successful. Boevers confirms he OK’d the event.
Wohlert says “oh, we’re not political.”
While Boevers acknowledged he approved the event, the district denies he provided permission for Wohlert and Sen. Giddens — and any other adult not employed by the district — to conduct political activity on school grounds during school time.
District policy states only students may attend and participate in meetings of noncurriculum-related groups.