Duval County Public Schools’ Professional Standards office has completed its investigation into the assertions made by a parent that a Cedar Hills Elementary School teacher conducted an inappropriate lesson in January on constitutional rights. 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 lessons in question.
The controversy began when the father of a Cedar Hills Elementary 4th-grader became furious after finding the below crayon-written paper in his child’s backpack stating: ‘I Am Willing to Give Up Some of My Constitutional Rights…to Be Safer’.
“It is our responsibility to address parent concerns,” said Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools. “However, there is an equal responsibility that the media and community share in ensuring that persons are not condemned until all of the facts are gathered and analyzed.”
Oliver states, “A statewide program founded in 2006, Justice Teaching [the organization that gave the class] is an association of attorneys and judges who deliver standards-based curriculum on government to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.”
The program and curriculum are approved by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.
According to the Justice Teaching website volunteers for Duval County Public Schools comes from 4th Judicial Circuit. The Justice Teaching local point of contact is the Honorable Karen K. Cole, Circuit Judge, Fourth Judicial Circuit, which includes Jacksonville.
According to the City of Jacksonville official website, “Judge Cole graduated from Jacksonville University in 1978 and from the University of Florida College of Law in 1981. She is a past president of the Jacksonville Bar Association. While she was in the private practice of law, Martindale-Hubbell, the recognized lawyer rating service, accorded her its highest rating (AV) rating for her competence and ethics. Judge Cole has served as president of the Chester Bedell American Inn of Court, a Jacksonville chapter of a national organization designed to improve the professionalism, ethics, and competence of trial lawyers. Judge Cole was appointed to the circuit bench in 1994, and since then has presided over civil, criminal, family, and juvenile divisions.”
WDW called Judge Cole’s office and requested the name of the lawyer or judge who taught the class and for a comment on the lesson. Our call has not been returned.
WDW also called and emailed Justice Teaching to request an interview with the lawyer who volunteered to teach at Cedar Hills Elementary. Our calls and email request have not been answered.
If anyone knows the name of the person who gave this class please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WDW will continue to pursue this story.