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Controversy in crayon: Leavenworth parent says child’s drawing was used to push political agenda

By Josh Jackson

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    LEAVENWORTH, Kansas (KCTV) — The parent of a David Brewer Elementary School student is calling for a school board member to step down and a state representative to be banned from her child’s school.

Courtney Ricard said that, without her permission, her daughter’s artwork was used to push a political agenda in Representative Pat Proctor’s February newsletter.

In the newsletter, she found a picture of her daughter Brylee’s rainbow drawing. It was referred to as an example of indoctrination in the school system.

“Her assignment was: ‘My school library is for everyone,’” Ricard said. “There were children who drew pictures of handicapped children, children of different colors. Her, along with five other students, drew LGBTQ-related pictures.”

“There were about 40 drawings there and over half of them were pride flags,” said Representative Proctor. “The vast majority of folks in my district believe that talking about transgenderism and bisexuality is not an appropriate discussion topic for 8 and 9-year-olds.”

Proctor said that, while visiting the school with conservative Board Member Vanessa Reid, it was clear the school library was doing more indoctrinating than educating.

“According to Kansas state assessments, our third and fourth graders were barely at 25% at or above reading level,” Proctor said. “So, instead of teaching all of this woke nonsense, we need to get back to reading, writing and arithmetic.”

Librarians, just like teachers, have state and American Association of School Librarians standards to follow.

David Brewer Elementary School Library Aide Brandi Bond said the assignment given was aligned with “character strong” curriculum highlighting people of color, women and others who broke barriers.

“You’re painting us in a light that isn’t honest, isn’t factual and school board members are supposed to be protecting our kids,” Bond said. “It makes me feel as if you don’t know as much as you think you know. You probably should come into the library, do some research and talk to people.”

The Leavenworth Unified School District issued a statement that said, in part: “We are committed to maintaining safe and secure facilities for students and staff, and will be working with the Board of Education to clarify and strengthen visitor policies to provide for productive visits to our facilities that foster goodwill and are beneficial to our school community.”

“I don’t want any child to feel like they can’t express themselves because somebody is going to come in with someone who doesn’t align with their views and use it in a negative way against them,” Bond added.

“It was so heartwarming to know that the school and the district had our back,” Ricard said.

Ricard said that, although she’s pleased with the district’s stance, the battle isn’t over.

“I really think Board Member Vanessa Reid should step down,” she said. “I was very taken off guard because there was no consent given. My child’s artwork was used without consent. That’s grotesque. I really do try to stay out of politics but, when it is affecting my child in such a manner, then it concerns me.”

“If she was so concerned about her daughter being dragged into a political conversation,” Proctor said, ”perhaps she should not have come out in every single regional and national media outlet that would talk to her all over Facebook that this was her daughter’s artwork.”

Proctor said he covered the student’s name in the newsletter that was sent out to his constituents.

Since she went public with her daughter’s story, Ricard said she’s been inundated with messages from parents of LGBTQ students who thank her for her bravery and fight for inclusivity.

UPDATE: On Thursday, Board Member Vanessa Reid sent KCTV5 News the following statement:

“Expressing one’s opinion on elected office holders is the right held by every member of the public. Yet those entrusted with elected responsibility do not shrink from those duties simply because an individual calls for it.

As a lifetime resident of this wonderful city, I love all of our students. I will not be distracted by deliberate attempts by a few who have taken it upon themselves to launch a campaign of misrepresentation and character assassination over a difference of perspective on topics that are under debate nationwide.

I remain committed to the reason for which I ran and was elected. That mission remains to be a voice for the majority of people in the great city of Leavenworth who are rightly concerned about the direction of our school system.

Unfortunately there has been misinformation being spread and the truth not being told. I never mentioned Ms. Ricard or her daughter. Neither was her artwork singled out. It was shown in a grouping of other drawings by Rep. Proctor at the bottom of a very lengthy newsletter sent to his constituents in a routine monthly update. On display in one of the elementary buildings there were several drawings. Some including same sex children holding hands with a gay pride flag heart drawn between them and another appeared to be a furry drawing with cage etc. This display was observed on a district approved tour and supply donation to the elementary school in Mr. Proctor’s district.

This is not an issue of whether myself or anyone else supports every student. Everyone should be well cared for in our district.

All displays in our schools provide the impression of being school sanctioned. This is a matter of whether rainbow assignments like this one are approved curriculum or if staff went outside of board approved curriculum. Additionally, this is the large responsibility we have as a district to make sure we are respectful and nondiscriminatory of the personal choices of religious, non religious, personal beliefs and preferences.”

Vanessa Reid, Leavenworth USD Board Member

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