Support Stoughton educators who oppose bigotry

The Stoughton Teachers Association is fighting unfair disciplinary measures imposed on three educators who have been punished for addressing instances of racism and bigotry in their school.

The MTA, alongside the STA, is circulating this petition to show support for educators who will not stand for hate, and MTA members and others are encouraged to sign it.

In November, some students at Stoughton High School were found to be using swastikas as social media avatars. Around the same time, a student created a swastika out of masking tape during a school event and made a highly offensive remark to a Jewish student who spoke out against the hate symbol.

“Our members exercised their best professional judgment in addressing this serious issue. And we still believe that this episode needs to be discussed with the entire community.”

— STA President John Gunning

Educators who learned of the episodes asked school officials to address hate speech and bigotry, but school officials did not bring the matter to the attention of the school community or the town in a timely or adequate way.

A teacher who withdrew a letter of recommendation that she had written to a college for the student found to have been involved in making the swastika during the school event was suspended without pay. Two other teachers spoke to students upset by the incidents, and they also were disciplined.

Both the STA and the MTA are fighting the disciplinary actions and drawing attention to the incidents, which Superintendent Dr. Marguerite Rizzi and other school officials are trying to downplay.

STA President John Gunning and other union leaders have spoken out at a Stoughton School Committee meeting and plan to continue their activism about the issue. Circulating the petition is one component of the union’s activity.

“Our members exercised their best professional judgment in addressing this serious issue. And we still believe that this episode needs to be discussed with the entire community,” Gunning said.

“The MTA is vigorously defending the teachers who were disciplined and will support the Stoughton Teachers Association in any way possible as it fights the injustice done to members,” MTA President Barbara Madeloni said. “Educators will not allow bigotry and hate to take hold in our schools. Nor will we allow those who speak and act against hate speech to be silenced.”

GoFundMe page for suspended teacher