Superintendent Xavier Botana recently supported the statement of Deering High School’s co-principals as they publicly called the recent Kentucky grand jury decision not to indict police in Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting an example of “unjust and broken systems.” Mr. Botana stated it was their First Amendment right to offer such an opinion, despite their opinion being written on official school letterhead.

As a Portland Public Schools employee, I hope he also supports my First Amendment right to offer a different opinion. Neither I nor anyone who works for Portland Public Schools sat on that grand jury. As a result, none of us has the benefit of hearing the facts presented to them. However, the co-principals have passed judgment without those facts, in essence doing the same thing they are accusing the system of doing.

Instead of making this a learning moment for students, they have robbed their students of an opportunity to utilize their critical thinking skills. They could have set the example as to how to separate fact from fiction, as well as provided them with what the legal criteria were to charge anyone with a crime. To do otherwise only serves to fan the flames of intolerance.

While the system is not perfect, the co-principals calling the justice system “unjust and broken” is an irresponsible blanket statement because, as leaders of DHS, they have an extra responsibility to ensure that students learn all sides of any matter. It’s simply not the co-principals’ responsibility to teach their opinions as if they were fact.

Scott Dunham
South Portland

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