A Cedar Ridge High School teacher has resigned after making national headlines for lessons that potentially violated school policy regarding political commentary in the classroom.
The teacher in question is Amanda Harder, who teaches Honors and AP English and History courses at Cedar Ridge High School, according to her LinkedIn page. Harder was put into the spotlight after on online blog – LadyLiberty1885.com – posted an article saying that Harder was comparing speeches from Adolf Hitler and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump while teaching. The blog posted audio that was reportedly recorded by a student during Harder’s class. The story was picked up by FOX News nationally.
In the audio, the voice of the teacher alleged to be Harder calls Trump the “master of pathos.” The teacher in the audio continues, “I mean, Hillary Clinton is guilty of the same thing. The only difference is she is a little bit more subtle about it. He just doesn’t seem to care who he offends.”
Orange County School Board chair Dr. Stephen Halkiotis spoke about the incident at the board’s meeting on Monday night.
Halkiotis said in a prepared statement provided to WCHL, “We all know this is a tense topic give the election season.”
Halkiotis continued, “While our teachers are free to educate students about political issues, when relevant to the curriculum, there is a fundamental difference between educating and advocating; between informing and voicing personal views.”
Halkiotis then confirmed that the “teacher in question” had resigned her position with the district effective Monday.
“While this matter has been concluded with the teacher’s voluntary decision, and without any personnel decision on the part of the school district,” Halkiotis said, “please know that our district has once again reminded all staff about the importance of following our policy on this topic.”
Harder’s LinkedIn page says she also previously taught in the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School District, including more than 12 years at East Chapel Hill High School.
You can read the full statement from Halkiotis below:
“At the outset, I would like to make a few comments about what has now become a public issue on political speech in our school system. We all know this is a tense topic given the election season. Please know that our Board of Education has clear policies that prohibit staff from promoting or denouncing a particular candidate or party. While our teachers are free to educate students about political issues, when relevant to the curriculum, there is a fundamental difference between educating and advocating; between informing and voicing personal views. Our policies are clear on these points. As an example, Board policy 7720 prohibits staff from making ‘use of an official school position to encourage or to coerce students or other employees of the district to support in any way a political party, candidate or issue.’
The Orange County Schools takes seriously any allegations raised about violations of this policy. The school system conducts a full and fair review of any such allegations and takes appropriate action based on the results of the review. While the details of any such review are confidential based on personnel laws, I am permitted to state that the teacher in question made the voluntary decision to resign from her employment with the school district effective today.
Orange County Schools hires and retains teachers that are second to none, who are dedicated to accomplishing the goals of our strategic plan for the benefit our students. Our teachers day in and day out provide educational opportunities at the highest level and do so without promoting or denouncing a candidate or party, in compliance with our policies. If an exception to this high level of excellence and compliance may occur, the school system takes it seriously, conducts a full and fair review, and addresses the matter appropriately. While this matter has been concluded with the teacher’s voluntary decision, and without any personnel decision on the part of the school district, please know that our district has once again reminded all staff about the importance of following our policy on this topic.”