Bethlehem Press

Monday, April 23, 2018
Newly elected board members Shamim Pakzad is sworn in. Newly elected board members Shamim Pakzad is sworn in.
Newly elected board member Tracy Magnotta is sworn in. Newly elected board member Tracy Magnotta is sworn in.
Newly elected board member Cedric Dettmar is sworn in. Newly elected board member Cedric Dettmar is sworn in.

SAUCON VALLEY: Board withdraws word ban proposal

Tuesday, January 2, 2018 by Mark Kirlin Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

In November, Saucon Valley High School Principal Beth Guarriello presented a plan to update policies in the HS Student Handbook. At that time, a proposal was presented to ban five words that were considered “hate speech.” Those words were “Bitch”, the N-Word, “Terrorist”, “Retarded” and “Gay.”

In the most recent meeting, the board approved updated changes that do not include the five words or “hate speech” as previously suggested. Instead the handbook has been written in a more broad-based manner under a new category titled “Anti-Discrimination and Harassment.” The policy notes the district will not tolerate behavior involving actions, language or symbols used to discriminate or harass based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc. Students who disobey the code of conduct could face consequences including suspension.

Council members Bryan Eichfeld and Susan Baxter voiced their support for the updated language.

Eichfeld said, “I like the re-write overall, I think it makes a lot more sense than what we were doing before.”

Baxter noted, “I appreciate the modifications, I think the new language is much better and I think it enables us to have more flexibility for each individual situation which is critical as well, instead of trying to define everything exactly how it must be when each situation is very different and you have to take a look at each situation as it comes about.”

The changes did not come without dissatisfaction. Council member Sandra Miller, said, “I’m disappointed that we softened the language, as a member of the equity committee, we felt pretty strongly about how this should be worded and how it should be followed back and if anything, this was actually a step back from recommendations from that.” She went on to say, “I will obviously continue to support the work of the administration and I’ll pass this because that’s what they would like us to do.”

Also, worthy of note, the Saucon Valley School Board swore in three newly elected board members. They are Cedric Dettmar, Tracy Magnotta and Shamim Pakzad. Bourd member Michael Karabin was also unanimously voted in as president of the board.