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Bringing civility back to Denair

POSTED December 10, 2010 11:49 p.m.

Civility has been in short supply in Denair over the past month, but the Denair Unified School District is looking to actively change that with the formation of a new committee.

The school district announced at their Thursday night board meeting the creation of  the Denair Community Civility Committee also known as D3C that will focus on the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s Choosing Civility initiative and free speech, tolerance, diversity and bullying. 

“I am hoping this will be a part of the curriculum,” said Carolyn Brown, DUSD Board of Trustees president. “What we went through last month, this is a good way to come back to civility.”

The last month has been an uncivil one in Denair after eighth grade student Cody Alicea was asked to remove the American flag off of his bike by a campus supervisor because students were allegedly making threats against Alicea and his flag.

The flag incident drew national attention that has bombarded the small Central Valley town with hundreds of calls, e-mails and media stations seeking the truth behind the “un-patriotic” act.

Dozens of citizens have also voiced their opinion that the problem started with the bullies and that situation needs to be publicly addressed.

“The issue at hand is the bullies threatening him because he wants to fly an American flag in America,” said Nancy Hinton, Modesto resident who also spoke at the Nov. 14 emergency school board meeting. “Why weren’t the bullies threatening him brought in the office and brought to justice?” The bullying is what inspired DUSD to put together D3C, along with the SCOE’s Choosing Civility Initiative.

DUSD presented the D3C draft on Thursday, including who would be on the committee and what the committee would focus on.

“D3C will explore the debate on community and school diversity, clarifying how the positive effects of diversity activities outweigh the potential problems associated with them and examines the role of students, parents, school staff, and the community in invoking action to promote diversity, civility and free speech. . . . Students and staff learn and work in schools that are free from violence, intimidation, threats, harassment and fear,” states the D3C draft.

According to the draft, members of D3C will consist of four teachers, two employees from the California School Employees Association, two members from the Denair Municipal Advisory Committee, a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputy, a California Highway Patrol officer, four community members, one DUSD school board member, three DUSD administrators (superintendent, Denair Middle School principal, Denair High School principal), one high school student, one middle school student, and four parents selected by school site councils.

But some board members want more community members and parents on D3C.

“This should be more community involved,” said Robert Hodges, DUSD board member. “This has to start at home. If it doesn’t start at home, it’s dead on arrival.”

Another concern voiced at Thursday’s meeting was where the funding would come from if D3C wanted to put on an event to help promote civility and anti-bullying.

“Is there funding for this if people want to do something?” asked Tim Ellis, DUSD board member.

The question about funding was not answered at Thursday’s meeting, but Superintendent Ed Parraz made note of it for the next review of the D3C draft, which will be at the Jan. 13, 2011 board meeting with membership selection beginning after the meeting.

In February, officers and sub-committees will be developed and members will work on a community civility campaign and review DUSD’s board policy regarding free speech.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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