The Anoka-Hennepin School Board will consider a proposal Monday, Dec. 12 to replace its Religious Activities Policy and its Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy with a curriculum policy on controversial topics. The board also will hear the first reading of revisions to its Harassment, Violence and Discrimination Policy. Policies require two readings before adoption; this is the first reading. The second reading is expected at a subsequent board meeting.

The timing of these policy revisions is based on the recent release by the Minnesota Department of Education of a new model policy on harassment. The board undertook a similar revision of policies in Oct. 2010 to clarify protected classes in the district’s harassment and anti-bullying policies.

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“We continuously work to improve our policies,” said Tom Heidemann, School Board chair. “We want our schools to be places where students are safe and have freedom to learn. We also need to respect a wide range of community beliefs. There will be topics that come up in our curriculum when teachers should hold back personal beliefs so that students can be free to form their own opinions.”

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The Controversial Topics Curriculum Policy is specific to curriculum and states schools are a place where a variety of issues should be discussed, but sharing personal opinions in a classroom on controversial topics is not in the best interest of student learning.

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This proposed policy is not in response to potential litigation. Mediation continues before a federal judge with the district, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, U.S. Department of Education – Office of Civil Rights and U.S Department of Justice.