This is a letter discovered by Duval County parent Aaron Harvey, who says his son wrote the letter because his 4th grade teacher told him to. It is signed by the student, but we have blurred out his name because of his age.
Just a few days after formally launching an investigation in to a civics lesson taught at Cedar Hills Elementary School, the Duval County School District has cleared the teacher of any fault.
The mother of a 4th grader found a crayon-written note in his sons backpack reading "I am willing to give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer or more secure.” The 10-year-old boy told his father his teacher told him and a few other classmates to write the note. It was an activity that came shortly after a civics-based lesson that was taught through a Duval Schools partnership with Justice Teaching.
On Friday, the District told WOKV there was “possible concern” regarding a “follow-up activity that may have been conducted after the lesson.” Now, however, the district says the lesson itself was part of the question, and the teacher wasn’t involved at all.
“Upon examination of the civics-based lessons and activities, and interviews with students, teachers, and school administrators, officials have found no evidence of indoctrination by the teacher. In fact, the teacher never taught the lesson in question,” says part of a statement released Tuesday by the District.
An investigation by the Professional Standards office, which I am working to obtain, claims the lesson itself was focused on a “Teaching about Controversial Issues” activity. The activity, according to the District, “directs students to write down the statement about relinquishing rights, specify if they agree or disagree, and requires them to offer strong arguments to defend their positions.” DCPS says that lesson, specifically, was taught by a Justice Teaching volunteer- a local attorney- and was “implemented and facilitated correctly,” the statement reads. The “Teaching about Controversial Issues” activity is not on the lesson plan given to WOKV regarding that specific day.
During this investigation, WOKV chose not to name the teacher at question, and we continue to do so because there hasn’t been found any documented wrongdoing at this time.
Aaron Harvey himself, the parent who first raised the concern, tells me he doesn’t want to see any consequence on the teacher, but he is waiting on a planned meeting on Friday with school officials before commenting further.
He did tell me, however, that he regrets if this brought hardship on the teacher or lawyer in question. He did not intend for any threats or insults to come to them, but just wanted a guarantee that a lesson like this wouldn’t happen again. The District had previously told him they believed his son wrote the message of their own free will. They did not formally release that to the public until Tuesday.
WOKV will continue to monitor any further developments.