Molalla River School Board Rescinds, Replaces Parent’s Rights Proclamation; Chair Asked to Step Down

The role of parents’ rights in education was again a topic of conversation in the Molalla River School District recently, as the school board voted to rescind a controversial proclamation declaring November “Parents’ Partnership in Education Month.”

They replaced it with a similar resolution declaring the same thing, but with language that was prepared by superintendent Tony Mann, in collaboration with the Molalla teachers’ union, and intended to reflect “the core values present in the Molalla River School District Community.”

The original resolution, which the board passed at its Oct. 10 meeting, was controversial primarily because of the group that originated it: Parents’ Rights in Education, or PRIE.

PRIE is a nonprofit advocating for parents’ rights to guide their children’s education, and promoting a conservative approach to sex education, LGBTQ issues and students’ access to contraceptives.

But in the several public meetings that have now been held to discuss this matter in the Molalla River School District, multiple commenters have described PRIE as an “anti-LGBTQ group.” That includes Hendy Appleton, who spoke at the most recent work session and also called for the resignation or removal of board chair Linda Eskridge, who had presented the original proclamation.

The public comment, which came after the board’s decision to rescind and replace the proclamation, lasted a couple hours and involved more than 25 people expressing a wide variety of perspectives.

Many praised the board for their unanimous decision to rescind the PRIE proclamation and replace it with one written by local teachers and administrators.

Others defended the group itself, or at the very least, the original resolution, which they said had positive language they supported and agreed with — regardless of where it came from.

Still others defended Eskridge, the increasingly embattled board chair (Appleton was not the only commenter who called for her to step down or be removed from her position).

Much of the discussion, both for and against, concerned LGBTQ issues — though the language in the original proclamation said nothing specifically about this topic.

Eskridge apologized for her comments during the previous meeting, in which she seemed to suggest — among other things — that homosexual behavior was being “pushed” on kindergartners.

The apology did not seem to move the commenters, and even board members, who believe she should be removed. A later motion to “discuss board leadership” at the work session failed by a vote of 4-3; however, the board did agree to take up the matter at their next meeting, on Dec. 12.

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