Chatham County Schools requests parental permission for distribution of pocket Constitutions

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At the Chatham Board of Education’s Nov. 17 meeting Amy Kappelman, chairperson of Chatham’s Moms for Liberty, expressed frustration to the board over the fact that the pocket Constitutions her organization presented to district offices in September hadn’t been distributed.

The district has requested approval from parents and guardians before distributing them.

“The district received the pocket Constitution donations after Constitution Day in September, which is when it would have been timed well with curriculum,” said Nancy Wykle, public information officer for Chatham County Schools, told the News + Record. “We receive an array of donations, and how we distribute them varies by amount, time and resources. Once the donation is made to the district, how and when it is distributed is up to the district.”

The official policy of CCS is outlined in Policy 5210: Distribution of Non-School Materials. The policy gives the district discretion regarding the distribution of materials, which can include asking for parental consent to distribute materials.

Parental consent is also required for other school-related activities and materials including athletics, field trips, health education, surveys of students, social media portrayals of students and more. A full list of CCS district policies is available online.

Wykle said CCS heard from several concerned parents who did not want their students to receive the pocket Constitutions. Those parents “disagreed with positions taken by the donating organization,” Wykle said. She said she did not speak directly with those concerned parents and was unsure whether their concerns were in regards to Moms for Liberty or 917 Society, which donated the Constitutions.

“Our decision was to contact all 8th grade families to let them know this resource was available and allow them to make the decision about whether they would like for their child to receive one,” Wykle said.

As of publication, Wykle said CCS has now begun distributing Constitutions to teachers with students who requested them.

917 Society, a nonprofit whose aim is to provide copies of the Constitution to 8th grade students across the country and “ensure our children learn the value in and the contents of the founding principles of our nation’s most sacred document,” according to its website. 917 has partnered with Moms for Liberty chapters across the country and lists several chapters as some of its top donors on its website.

Recently, the national organization of Moms for Liberty made national headlines when South Carolina school board members, six of whom were endorsed by Moms for Liberty, in the Berkeley School District moved to fire the district’s first Black superintendent and the district’s lawyer, ban Critical Race Theory and establish a committee that would decide whether certain books and materials should be banned, NBC News reported.

Reporter Ben Rappaport can be reached at brappaport@chathamnr.com  or on Twitter @b_rappaport.

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