Teachers Disciplined for Protesting Hutcherson Appearance
Two teachers at Snoqualmie's Mount Si High School are planning to take legal action after they were formally disciplined for protesting Pastor Ken Hutcherson's appearance at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly in January. Last week, the school's principal, Randy Taylor, met with Dr. George Potratz and Kit McCormick—both English teachers at Mount Si—and presented them with letters admonishing them for their behavior during the assembly.
During a student-planned assembly on January 17, Potratz booed Hutcherson—famous for his virulently antigay lobbying and rhetoric—and McCormick, an adviser to the school's Gay/Straight Alliance club, asked the pastor to explain how his speech about equality related to his public stance against gay rights.
In the last few weeks, things have been tense at the school. Mount Si's office has been flooded with calls from parents—some angry, some supportive of the teachers—and there are rifts growing among the students. Recently, several students circulated a petition to end the school's annual "Day of Silence," meant to raise awareness about homophobia. When another student—a member of the GSA—refused to sign the petition, they were harassed.
While the incident had come up at several packed school-board meetings, the district had refused to "take a side" on the issue. Still, the district allowed Taylor to discipline the two teachers. Taylor claims the teachers—who were protesting Hutcherson's presence at an assembly about equality—acted in an "unprofessional" manner, and, in his letter to McCormick, suggested she should have, among other things, submitted an editorial to the school's newspaper in advance of Hutcherson's appearance, rather than speak up at the assembly.
Potratz and McCormick—who have both been offered free legal counsel and support from groups like the National Organization for Women and the Human Rights Commission—are working with their union to contest the disciplinary letters.