The Texas school district that placed a popular art teacher on administrative leave with pay after she requested that school officials modify district policy on LGBTQ language has finally answered questions surrounding the case.
Mansfield Independent School District said Tuesday that it placed Stacy Bailey on leave after it received complaints from parents who said the art teacher had discussed her sexual orientation with her elementary-aged students, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
"The District's concern is that Ms. Bailey insists that it is her right and that it is age appropriate for her to have ongoing discussion with elementary-aged students about her own sexual orientation, the sexual orientation of artists, and their relationships with other gay artists," the district said in a statement Tuesday.
What's the story?
On Sept. 8, Bailey received notice from the district’s associate superintendent, Kimberley Cantu, that she was being placed on administrative leave with pay while it completed an investigation but didn't give a reason for the investigation.
The news came one day after she had inquired about creating a plan to have LGBTQ language included in the district’s policy.
Bailey was instructed to “make no contact with students, parents or other staff members,” or to discuss her “administrative leave situation with others.” She was also reportedly told not to access “school technology, her office or department.”
Bailey’s attorney said that the teacher’s record ” has been exemplary.”
Then what happened?
District officials remained silent about the reason for the disciplinary action taken against Bailey. On March 9, it released a statement that said: "Mansfield ISD is committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees."
The district released a second statement this week in response to a series of documents the Star-Telegram received through public information requests.
"We believe it is paramount to partner with our parents in the education of their children. Therefore, parents have the right to control the conversation with their children, especially as it relates to religion, politics, sex/sexual orientation, etc.," the statement said.
The statement added that as a general rule it does not comment on employee personnel matters but that misinformation regarding the teacher has caused a disruption to the learning environment at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School.
Did Bailey discuss her sexual orientation with students?
According to Jason Smith, Bailey's attorney, she had one conversation about it with her students.
"On one occasion, she discussed with students her spouse, who happens to be a woman, just as any other teacher would do," Smith told the Star-Telegram. "It's sad that Mansfield ISD issued a statement with multiple falsehoods to try and deflect the increasing parent pressure to bring back Miss Bailey."
Some of Bailey's supporters attended a Tuesday school board meeting to discuss the topic, but it did not make the agenda, and they took no action on the subject, the Star-Telegram reported.
A petition that calls for the district to add LGBTQ protections has garnered nearly 1,100 signatures while Bailey remains on leave.