FALCON — Dozens of protestors gathered outside District 49's board meeting Thursday night in support of a teacher who was reprimanded for violating district policy after showing a Black Lives Matter mural to fourth graders at Bennett Ranch Elementary.
According to the district, students in the Art Explore class engaged in the lesson on January 19 and 20. While the contents of the lesson met state academic standards related to culture, the material over Black Lives Matter was presented without following district policy of notifying parents about potentially controversial topics. Parents can be brought in for input, or to sign off on the subject. They can also choose to remove their student from class during such a lesson.
To show their support for the teacher and denounce systemic racism, protestors gathered outside of the board meeting to let their voices be heard.
"American history is black history," said Scott Silver, Colorado Springs resident. "The Black Lives Matter movement from this summer is informed by the civil rights movements. If you're teaching about the civil rights movement during Black History Month, then it makes sense to teach about Black Lives Matter."
"District 49 taking a stance that BLM is controversial was disappointing to me as a resident in this city," said another protestor.
With signs such as "Antiracism Starts with Education" and "Black Lives Matter," protestors voiced their anger and frustration over the district's decision to reprimand the teacher.
Inside of the meeting, the chants could be heard but it was business as usual. Teachers, parents, and students took the podium during the public forum to comment on the situation.
"I congratulate you for sticking up for the rights of our students and protecting the district's educational values," said John Nikoli, Falcon resident.
"We are tired of seeing this white privilege. You need to erase that stuff, its done," said Charles Johnson.
After the forum was over, the district decided to break from protocol and move up an agenda item on racial equity. The district encouraged those who spoke during the forum to join and be a voice on the advisory committee. They also highlighted their efforts to create more diversity.