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Displays, decorations to be limited in Lead-Deadwood classrooms

This 81/2 x 11 sign was at the center of a controversy that has led the Lead-Deadwood School District to ban such signage.

LEAD, SD – After a teacher in the Lead-Deadwood School District reported safe space signage with rainbow coloring as “social drama” and “political propaganda,” the district’s Board of Education unanimously voted to limit materials and decorations on district property at its Monday meeting.

The revised policy allows school counselors in the Lead-Deadwood School District to display signage in the office aligned with the American School Counselor Association standards and recommendations, but not in classrooms.

The issue arose over a sign outside of the Lead-Deadwood Elementary School Counselor’s office that read, ‘This is a Safe Space. All are Welcome Here,’ and included rainbow colors in its design that is a signature used by the LGBTQ community.

At public meetings held to discuss the issue, the majority of those speaking opposed any decision that would ban such signage.

Suzanne Rogers, Board of Education president said she was disappointed the district reached the point of needing such a policy when the intent of the sign was to encourage and support all kids. She compared the board’s decision to ‘opening Pandora’s Box.’

According to Lead-Deadwood Superintendent Dr. Erik Person, while the sign issue was “blown out of proportion,” a bigger issue is how First Amendment rights are being impacted in public school. He said the courts have established that teachers have First Amendment right in their classrooms – but that there are reasonable limits.

The new policy also allows administration to consider whether the display of “controversial subject matter” will cause strong negative reactions from “reasonably minded persons,” to determine if the materials should be removed.

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