Moved Xmas Card Poster at Brooklet Elem. Causes Headaches - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Moved Xmas Card Poster at Brooklet Elem. Causes Headaches

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BULLOCH COUNTY, GA -

The Bulloch Co. School District is fighting back after they say a false news report was filed by a Fox News Radio commentator about Brooklet Elementary confiscating Christmas cards. The article alleges the teachers' cards were removed by administrators as an act of censorship as the Bulloch County Board of Education is having ongoing conversations about religious expression in schools.

The Principal of Brooklet, Marlin Baker, said that is not the case. Baker said it's a faculty tradition to hang staff Christmas cards up on a poster. Usually the poster hangs out in the hallway for students to see but Baker said one of the teachers had a privacy issue so the poster was moved into the faculty work room. School staff said when the poster was moved on Monday that it didn't even have any Christmas cards on it.

"The decision to move the poster had nothing, absolutely nothing, at all to do with any type of religious conversation that is going on in the county," said Marlin.

The Superintendent said the misinformation caused the school to get flooded with calls and emails of outcry.

"[I am] disappointed. We are trying hard in this community to have a good, healthy dialogue and it seems the intentional spreading of this misinformation I see it as destructive," said Superintendent Charles Wilson.

Brooklet Elementary teacher, Becky Petkewich, said she was offended when she read the news report.

"I just couldn't believe that someone would make up some things like that," said Petkewich.

Petkewich said the whole situation has been misconstrued.

"The whole country now is looking at us in a negative way, that we've done something horrible, that we are not letting the children celebrate Christmas and that's not what it is," said Petkewich.

This is the link to Fox News Radio Commentary Host Todd Starnes' article:

http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/georgia-school-confiscates-christmas-cards.html 

Here is the full statement from Bulloch County Schools:

"Brooklet Elementary School's (BES) holiday traditions and especially those of Christmas are alive and well," said BES Principal Marlin Baker. Bulloch County Schools nor BES's administrators have not, nor do they plan to remove any student's learning experiences about Christmas or any other seasonal holiday.  Students returned Monday from Thanksgiving break, and already student's holiday artwork is going up on bulletin boards, walls and doorways.

Unfortunately, today the school was terrorized by an intentional and vicious dissemination of untrue information that disrupted the good work going on inside.  Fox News Radio Commentary Host Todd Starnes, acting on misinformation that neither he, nor his media outlet corroborated with the school system or Baker, misreported a story about student Christmas Cards being removed from the school. Baker did not receive any questions from the local community either.

The cards in question were not student Christmas cards, nor were they a student project or tradition.  The cards are the personal family Christmas cards that faculty members share with one another.  They are the personal cards from their homes that they would send to family and friends.   

It has been a faculty tradition to post the cards on a small display board made of two pieces of red and green poster paper. The display in the past was posted in hallway outside the office workroom.   

This year, due to a legitimate, personal privacy concern raised by one of the school's staff members, Baker moved the display to the opposite wall inside the office work room so that the staff member could still participate in the tradition. Baker wanted to respect the staff member's privacy and that of his/her children depicted in the Christmas card.

The display being moved had absolutely nothing to do with the current open and ongoing discussions that the school system is having with local citizens about religious liberties and expression.  "We don't want this misinformation to derail the positive work we are committed to with our community leaders," said Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson.

"I'm appalled by this attack on our school system, and on Brooklet Elementary," said Superintendent Charles Wilson.   "We have outstanding faculty, motivated students, and very supportive parents," Baker said.  "Our holiday musical is December 17, at 6:30 p.m., and we'd like to invite everyone to attend.  This event and all of our long-standing traditions are firmly in place." 

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