The Playgoer: Wilton HS Update

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wilton HS Update

I've been provided with a copy of this official notice from Wilton HS in Connecticut, regarding the fate of drama teacher Bonnie Dickinson, whose class is responsible for the Iraq play "Voices in Conflict."

To those of you who took time to write, kudos! You just might have made a difference.

We have received a number of emails expressing support for Bonnie Dickinson and concern over potential disciplinary action. I wish to clarify the situation. In April, we received a complaint from a parent about Ms. Dickinson. After receiving the complaint, we followed an investigative process that included administrative review of the complaint, an opportunity for both parties to be heard, and examination of the facts. After a thorough review we found no evidence that would justify disciplinary action against Ms. Dickinson. We consider the matter concluded.

On a separate note, we congratulate the students on their successful off-campus performances of the revised “Voices in Conflict” project.

Respectfully,
Gary G. Richards
Superintendent
If you ask me, looks like the school is eager to get the controversy behind them, even if that means standing up to their more right-wing parent constituencies. It's always good when the intolerant are not the only ones exerting pressure.

Thanks again to Alisa Solomon for bringing the latest developments to my attention. The website for the project is here. Looks like the kids are doing their last show this Friday night. In Fairfield!

3 comments:

John Branch said...

Some things I wonder: One, isn't the superintendent's explanation of the concern about Dickinson different from what the principal said back in March? Maybe I don't have the details clear in my mind, but I thought the principal had, on his own, objected to the "balance" of the play that Dickinson's students prepared--not the same thing as a complaint from a parent. And what about the possibility of a suspension? That was mentioned in an earlier post at this blog, but the past-tense statement by the superintendent ("we found no evidence that would justify disciplinary action") doesn't make clear whether suspension was being considered.

Two, is there a date on this "official notice"? Because Alisa Solomon reported a few days ago on a public appearance by Dickinson and her lawyer, it appears that everyone concerned thought there was a problem a few days ago. (I.e., Dickinson thought she needed a lawyer a few days ago.) Now there's no problem. When did the problem go away? I'm just trying to get this story a little more clear in my mind.

I'm not making a cry of "disingenuous!" That complaint was justly made of some of NYTW's statements last year, when the basic problem--that the play had been postponed--persisted. Here, it looks (to me, without pondering it very long) as if the teacher's job is safe and things are more or less back to normal. I'm just not sure about some of these details.

alisa said...

The problem went away TODAY after school officials met; they issued the statement after the meeting. The panel where Dickinson's lawyer explained the threat of disciplinary action -- one possibility of which was suspension -- was last Friday and he appealed for letters of support there -- and he thinks they had a positive impact.

Indeed, both the principal's and the superintendent's initial statements about the play cited imbalance as one of the problems, as you can see if you look them up. That is also one of the things the parent complained about; whether she made other complaints more privately I have no idea, but if she did, apparently they were found to be baseless. It seems to me that the superintendent's wording of statement is a way of making the administration itself look blameless in its decision to ban the play from the school, which did, in fact happen and for which the school administration makes no apology. I agree with Playgoer that it sounds like the school wants to put this behind them wihtout admitting any errors in judgment of its own.

In any event, the good news is that a very good teacher has been spared -- but the school did ban the play from its premises and even tried for a time to forbid its performance elsewhere and sees no problem with that.

Jeff Massie said...

Well, now it would appear that Gary Richards is a lying sack.