Board talks new school names, hears public testimony
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Highlights of Oct. 14 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. The next Board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.  

New LPS school name recommendations
  • Sally G. Wysong Elementary School.
  • Marilyn Moore Middle School.
  • Bill Nuernberger Education Center.

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday considered those three names: for a new elementary and middle school, and a renovated facility at 1801 S. 40th St. – recommendations passed on by the Lincoln Public Schools Community Naming Committee. The Board will vote final approval at the Oct. 28 Board meeting.

“I cannot be more pleased at the suggestions – great work,” said Board member Don Mayhew.

The new elementary and middle school will both be located in southeast Lincoln: The elementary school will open in the fall of 2016; the middle school will open in the fall of 2017. The renovated facility – at 1801 S. 40th St. and previous home to the Bryan Focus Program – will soon provide a home for middle school students who need additional behavior, emotional and social support.

  • Sally G. Wysong was a long-time early childhood education advocate who ran the Meadowlane daycare/preschool in north. Later she served several terms on the Lincoln Board of Education as a staunch supporter of early childhood education.
  • Marilyn Moore was the Associate Superintendent for Instruction at LPS for many years, retired several years ago, and started her career in education as a middle school teacher with LPS. She often talked about the specific needs of middle school students, and initiated the process to transition LPS from the junior high to the middle school model.
  • Bill Nuernberger was the first separate juvenile judge for Lancaster County, a man who advocated that children and young people needed a separate court.
Public comment

More than 40 community members came to testify about professional development related to transgender, gender nonconforming and gender conforming students. Some testified with concerns about the professional staff training, others testified in support of giving LPS staff members guidance in ways to be sensitive to the needs of all students. 

Some of the supporter comments:

  • Rev. Jacob Buchholz, a minister with First Plymouth Congregational Church, talked about growing up in a family of deafness – and the horrors of intense discrimination against deaf adults and children.  “These sorts of negative comments are nothing new.  We heard these comments throughout history…We only need to look at concerned parents during the time of desegregation, confused about what was right and what was wrong. The language used then, is the same language I’m hearing tonight. …I hope that we can all be seeking to stand on the side of love tonight.”
  • Tyler Richard, American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska:  “Thank you to the Board of Education for your leadership and upholding our state’s strong constitutional guarantee for educating all students…We are not talking about an issue, an agenda, behaviors.  We talking about people – we’re talking about children in our public schools.”
  • Todd Tystad, a teacher at Lincoln Public Schools: “I have taught hundreds of students in my career and worked to establish a rapport with my students and families….and part of that is understanding what makes my students unique…and I know students who have struggled with gender identity…I’m concerned that there are those who have never experienced being scared as a child...Every child wants to be accepted and every child wants to be loved… Public education is about educating every child because every child is important and every child is accepted and every child should be cherished.”
  • Cathy Beecham: “Our family is here tonight to say: We trust our teachers.  We trust our principals.  We trust our district employees to know what kind of training they would like to have.  We trust them to act appropriately in the classroom without pushing an agenda… I did a little research and was shocked to learn that 30 to 40 percent of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students will try to kill themselves…In my opinion, if teacher training helps us to prevent one student in this community from hurting themselves…I think it is a valuable, valuable training…If we as adults can’t talk about this topic, imagine how difficult it must be for a child who is struggling.”
  • Jon Carl Denkovich, representing GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network: “Training teachers and staff on this issue is an important step in the district’s journey to inclusiveness.”
  • Dianne Walkowiak said she is the mother of a transgender child. “I can understand the discomfort and confusion…I raised a beautiful daughter who is now my son.  And you are telling me my son is immoral…is not worth the staff time…to be informed to how to deal with him…to make him feel welcome.  You are telling me that it doesn’t matter that I and other parents fear for our child’s life… You may not agree.  But please accept that staff needs to be informed about this issue.”
  • Julie Hunter, teacher at Irving Middle School: “There is no hidden agenda, we are not restructuring the norms of families…We simply believe that every student has the right to have informed, educated and compassionate teachers in their corner.”
Superintendent update

Superintendent Steve Joel thanked “all the parents and patrons who took the time to come out and share their thoughts…It’s heartening to hear so many of our trusted, loyal LPS supporters…hopefully have an understanding of what we’re trying to do… It’s always going to be about creating relationships with individual students…so that those students can be successful.”


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