WILLIAMSTON, Mich. — A fourth-grade teacher’s decision not to show Donald Trump’s inauguration speech to his students live prompted strong reactions outside the school district after a syndicated radio host shared his letter to parents.
Steve Gruber, whose two children go to Williamston Community Schools, posted an email sent Monday to parents by Brett Meteyer, a teacher at Explorer Elementary School about 15 miles east of Lansing, Mich. Gruber said he received a copy of the email from another parent in the district.
In the email, Meteyer explained that the president-elect's comments during the election about women, minorities and the disabled, comments Meteyer characterized as inflammatory and derogatory, left him worried that Trump might make similar statements in his inauguration speech.
“Because I am concerned about my students and your children being exposed to language and behavior that is not in concert with the most conservative social and family values, I have decided to show the inauguration of Donald Trump this Friday, but we will not view Mr. Trump's inauguration speech,” Meteyer wrote in the email.
Meteyer also wrote that his attempts to reach out to the Trump transition team in an effort to preview the speech ahead of time were unsuccessful.
Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday that Trump wants to talk about issues that will allow him to unite the country.
In his letter to parents, Meteyer wrote that he showed students inauguration speeches made by former President George W. Bush in 2005 and Barack Obama in 2009.
"I am also uneasy about Mr. Trump's casual use of profanity, so I sought an assurance that as their teacher, I would not be exposing children to language that would not appear in G- or PG-rated movies," Meteyer wrote. He ended the email by saying his plans could change if he hears back from the Trump team.
Meteyer didn’t respond to requests for comment Wednesday and did not say in his note whether he would take up the topic of the speech again Monday.
Gruber, whose three-hour morning show airs on about two dozen radio stations in Michigan including WJIM-AM, Lansing, said he isn’t asking for Meteyer to be fired or threatening to pull his own children from the district. Rather, he said he would prefer the teacher use Friday’s event as an important lesson for students.
“He has an opportunity to demonstrate that even when you lose, you come together for peaceful transfer of power," Gruber said. "The message to 10-year-olds in his class is that the president is a bad man, and that’s not acceptable."
Some blogs have characterized Meteyer's decision as forbidding the students to watch the speech or saying Trump was banned from the classroom.
Narda Murphy, superintendent of Williamston Community Schools, wrote a letter to families explaining that teachers are expected to teach the curriculum in a balanced manner and “demonstrate good judgment in their communications with families.” The letter also noted that the district won’t comment on specific employee issues.
“Each teacher determines classroom instruction, and we encourage parents to contact them if they have concerns,” she said.
Individual teachers, not the administration, make the decision to show students the presidential inauguration ceremonies, Murphy said.
Gruber said the district’s statement did little to address concerns, adding that administrators “might as well have issued a blank piece of paper.”
Follow RJ Wolcott on Twitter: @wolcottr