After reviewing the policies of the Cedar Falls School District, it appears likely that Sen. Eric Giddens and his wife, Kendra Wohlert, violated district policies by attending the “kindness” event hosted by the “Difference” group at Peet Junior High in Cedar Falls.

Not only did the couple attend the event, but according to Facebook posts, Wohlert is the “fearless leader” of the group and organized the event.

Both Sen. Giddens and Wohlert were confronted on video the morning of the event.

Janelle Darst, communications director for Cedar Falls Schools, sent the Student Organizations policy to The Iowa Standard. Under this policy, secondary school student-initiated, noncurriculum-related groups and student curriculum groups may use school facilities for group meetings upon receiving permission from the principal during non-instructional time.

Meetings are not to interfere with the “orderly conduct of the education program or other school district operations.” However, one student sent a text to his mother telling her he felt uncomfortable because of the gay pride event that was happening at the school.

The policy states the principal, in this case Mr. Bill Boevers, would determine whether the meetings will interfere with the orderly conduct of the education program.

It is likely this “Difference” group would fall under the non-curriculum related organization. Student-initiated, noncurriculum-related organizations are provided access to meeting space and school district facilities before and after the instructional school day.

However, only students may attend and participate in meetings of noncurriculum-related groups. Such attendance is strictly voluntary and student-initiated.

Employees are supposed to be assigned to monitor approved meetings, but they are not supposed to participate in the meeting or assist in planning, criticizing or encouraging attendance. “Only students may be involved in and attend the noncurriculum group’s meetings,” according to the district’s policy.

The Iowa Standard has asked the district what the punishment is for violating district policies. We also asked for clarification on if “Difference” is a non-curriculum related organization.

Read the district’s policy below:

Policy Title: Student Organizations Code No. 505.2

Secondary school student-initiated, noncurriculum-related groups and student curriculum-related groups, upon receiving permission from the principal, may use school facilities for group meetings during non-instructional time.

Non-instructional time will mean any time before the first period of the day and after the last period of the day in which any student attends class. Meetings will not interfere with the orderly conduct of the education program or other school district operations. It is within the discretion of the principal to determine whether the meetings will interfere with the orderly conduct of the education program or other school district operations. Activities relating to and part of the education program will have priority over the activities of another organization.

Curriculum-Related Organizations

It will also be the responsibility of the principal to determine whether a student group is curriculum-related. One or more of the following questions will be answered affirmatively if the group is curriculum-related:

• Is the subject matter of the group actually taught in a regularly offered course? • Will the subject matter of the group soon be taught in a regularly offered course? • Does the subject matter of the group concern the body of courses as a whole? • Is participation in the group required for a particular course? • Does participation in the group result in academic credit?

Secondary school curriculum-related student organizations may use the school district facilities for meetings and other purposes before and after the instructional school day. Employees are assigned to monitor approved meetings and may interact with curriculum-related organizations.

Noncurriculum-Related Organizations

Student-initiated, noncurriculum-related organizations are provided access to meeting space and school district facilities before and after the instructional school day.

Only students may attend and participate in meetings of noncurriculum-related groups. Such attendance is strictly voluntary and student-initiated. As a means of determining whether a student’s attendance is voluntary, the principal may require parental consent for the student to attend the meetings.

Employees will be assigned to monitor approved meetings; however, employees will not participate in the meeting or assist in planning, criticizing, or encouraging attendance. Only students may be involved in and attend the noncurriculum group’s meetings.

It is the responsibility of the superintendent or designee, in conjunction with the principal, to develop administrative regulations regarding this policy.

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall