I Was Thrown Out of a School Board Meeting for Asking a Question

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PENDLETON, Ind.—I was kicked out of a public school board meeting in Pendleton, Indiana because I asked a board member to provide details concerning a claim he made about a source in my prior article. 

The South Madison Community School Corporation Board had a public meeting on March 9 to vote on the firing of Kathy McCord, a school counselor who had previously told The Daily Signal that she did not agree with the district’s policy to hide a student’s transgender name and status from their parents. She further confirmed the legitimacy of the South Madison Gender Support Plan, which had been provided to The Daily Signal by both parents and staff members in the South Madison district.

After an evening in which dozens of parents showed up to show their support for McCord, imploring the Board to keep her on staff, the board voted unanimously to terminate her contract. Buck Evans, a member of the South Madison School Board for over twenty years, made this accusation:

Mrs. McCord admitted she did not tell the truth about providing Mr. Kinnett with the document or correct misleading statements within his article, although she did read it before she started. Misleading statements in The Daily Signal article along with editing the document enflamed the public unnecessarily. You can see on this document there is to be a meeting with the child’s parents and/or guardians. Mrs. McCord has not been dismissed because she gave the document to Mr. Kinnett but because of untruthful statements she made to the administration.

As the board adjourned the meeting, I asked from the press area, “How was the document edited? Can you claim how the document was edited at all? Can you cite how the document was edited—since you leveled the claim that it was falsified?”

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Board President Mike Hanna then ordered officers of the Pendleton Police Department to remove me from the premises. 

At no time did I ever edit the Gender Support Plan or the counselor-to-teacher email as Evans claims. As you can see below, I received the Gender Support Plan and the email in the same form as published in both emails and text messages in December.

A text message from South Madison parent Brandon Godbey, who sent the original email to The Daily Signal on Nov. 14, unedited.

Before I wrote the first report on South Madison’s hidden gender support policy, I asked to speak with Superintendent Mark Hall several times—he refused to speak with me. I asked several of the board members to clarify the documents I had received and to answer the claims parents were making. I was refused comment. 

When the first article was published, the South Madison Community School Corporation did not contest the internal document I published, and did not claim it was falsified at any of the five school board meetings between December and March’s executive session to fire McCord.

Below is the email (sender omitted) sent on Dec. 1 which contained a digital version of the SMCSC Student Gender Support Plan. There has not been a scrap of content cut or altered to suit any agenda—it was published on Dec. 5 as given to me on Dec. 1:

The Gender Support Plan, as sent to The Daily Signal on Dec. 1, before the first article was released.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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