Superintendent Responds to Anti-Police Video Shown at Middle School

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Watertown Middle School

Watertown Middle School

Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston sent a letter on Saturday about the showing of a video with an anti-police bias to a class at Watertown Middle School in February.

The video came to light last week on the Turtle Boy website. Follow Watertown News this week for more coverage.

The following is the text of Galdston’s letter:

Good evening, WPS Parents, Guardians, Faculty, and Staff:

I recently became aware of an incident that occurred in a Watertown Middle School Community Meeting in which students were shown a video with a strong anti-police sentiment. The video, along with the follow-up discussion, did damage to our school and community, was hurtful to students and families; for that, we are deeply sorry.

The Watertown Public Schools greatly appreciates the ongoing support that the Watertown Police have provided us. We value their continued collaboration with our schools and their work in the community.

Watertown Public Schools’ core mission is to develop our students into well-rounded members of society who are capable of thinking both critically and for themselves. The video presentation was not part of the curriculum and was shown without the knowledge or consent of the school or district administration. The teacher responsible did not consult in advance with their colleague who co-facilitated the Community Meeting that morning, and this video is in direct conflict with the spirit of Community Meetings. Our administrative team is reviewing this incident to develop a complete understanding of what occurred. While personnel matters cannot be shared publicly, please know that District leadership will address this incident directly in a way that is consistent with School Committee policies and procedures.

We are committed as a District to developing and delivering a curriculum that takes a holistic view of American history, including racism, systemic racism, and the roots of the Civil Rights and racial justice movements. This goal is achieved through thoughtful, appropriate curriculum and structured, facilitated instruction. Educators are providers of information whose curricular decisions should instruct and inform, not politicize and divide. The incident that occurred during the Community Meeting did not reflect our values and standards.

The Watertown Public Schools remains steadfast in its commitment to becoming an anti-racist district within our classrooms and across our schools in support of all of our students. This is challenging personal, interpersonal, and institutional work and we are planning thoughtful ways we can move forward from this incident in a unifying and inclusive manner. Above all else, we will continue to promote and work towards a climate that respects and supports all members of our strong WPS community.

With highest regards,

Dede Galdston, Ed.D

Superintendent

27 thoughts on “Superintendent Responds to Anti-Police Video Shown at Middle School

  1. WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE KIDS WHO HAVE RELATIVES IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT . DO YOU THEY EVER THINK HOW DAMAGING IT IS FOR THOSE POOR KIDS. THEY HAVE DADS, MOMS, UNCLE’S ETC THAT ARE IN THE POLICE AND FOR THEM TO JUST DISREGARD THEIR FEELINGS ITS HORRIBLE.
    WHAT HAVE WE BECOME. SOMEONE NEEDS TO ADDRESS THIS WOMEN. TALK ABOUT KIDS DEPRESSION IN THESE TRYING TIMES AND NOW YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT THEIR FAMILIES THAT COULD BE IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.
    DOES ANYONE SEE HOW WRONG THIS IS? SHAME ON YOU .

  2. I thought this was a thoughtful email from the SI and she will hopefully hold true to her words in the future. Political banter has no place in middle schools.

    • You have to be kidding the Superintendent is the one that is responsible she is aware of everything and ignores until it is brought up publicly this also includes the school committee. Since the Superintendent has been hired she shows know empathy or concerns regarding, students, staff or the environment that our students are in. Let’s start from the top and work down, No vote of Confidence in Town Manager,Town President, School CommitteePresident, Superintendent, and the principal. This is disgraceful the state needs to step in Now. Retired teacher

  3. Can we please have less politics and “political correctness” in the schools and more learning and common sense?

    This is what happens when certain political factions and teachers unions force”Woke Culture”, “Cancel Culture”, “Intersectionality”, LGBTQ, etc. on students.

    Please leave those things to the parents and stop trying to indoctrinate students.

    People are tired of it all and the students are being ill-served.

    • No one is forcing LGBQT on students. Students ARE MEMBERS of the the LGBQT community. Read the room KAREN, homophobia is CANCELLED.

      • How interesting. So many angry comments from a bunch of conservatives having meltdowns about a video they haven’t seen, making “anti-liberal” insults accusations about “these people” and teachers in general that they’ve never met just because they’ve been told that the police were treated in a similar fashion.

        And they say liberals are the snowflakes.

  4. School is supposed to be a place of political Neutrality. Not a place of Radical Leftist thinkings. This woman was my former Spanish Teacher and I think she should be Removed from her job immediately.

  5. What’s next with these people who are being paid by taxpayers to teach and not try to push their faulty beliefs on children? Perhaps the next thing we will hear is the horrible treatment that the Tsarnaev brothers received following them setting off bombs on Boylston Street. Would not surprise me in the least, and as far as this “teacher” being reprimanded, no, she should be terminated so someone rational can teach these kids!

  6. I assume equal time will be given to a representative of the police department to address the issues brought up in the video. The teacher should be clearly held accountable for her actions and be required to learn what her responsibilities are to the student body.

  7. Are you kidding? Only certain topics are allowed to experience the full range of free expression. This teacher will not be among those who are “cancelled.”

  8. Since I have not seen the video, nor have any us us responding, as far as I can tell, I can’t make a judgement. I think that the Superintendent wrote an excellent letter and I believe that she will see the video and make an appropriate response.

  9. Why hasn’t this teacher been removed yet?! This happened in February. Why is it taking the superintendent getting involved for the parents and public to be notified about this situation? The Principal should have handled this right away. Isn’t the school system supposed to be focused on supporting the students in this matter instead of being frightened of “cancel culture” and trying to hide that this video was shown during homeroom?!? Not even during a class. Why did the SPANISH TEACHER feel the rushing need to show homeroom students an anti police video? Have you watched the video in the link of turtleboy? ACAB??? The same police department that was protecting the town during the marathon bombing??? Let’s get back to supporting our Police Department. Let’s get back to supporting our teachers. The teachers that are there to SUPPORT the children. Not the teacher that is SHOVING PERSONAL POLICTAL VIEWS in our children’s faces. MIDDLE SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN.

  10. The teacher is an idiot. Anti policing videos do NOTHING to promote civic understanding and pride. A political ploy all the way and it deserves no place in the schools.

    • Have you actually seen the video Fred? Might be best to know what you are talking about before calling someone an idiot.

  11. This is what we now have in our community, a real problem.
    Police Log
    By Charlie Breitrose | March 7, 2021
    Feb. 27, 1:55 a.m.: Officers conducting a property check at Moxley Field discover graffiti on the field house wall. The officer observed that “(F-word) 12” was written multiple times, which refers to police.

    • Funny, I had to report that the n-word was spray painted on the Moxley baseball field equipment bin not too long ago. Except I just contacted the Dept. of Rec, who took care of it swiftly.

  12. So the spanish teacher Ruth Henry wants us to believe 99-100% of police are racist? WOW! That may be the most ignorant lesson plan we have seen in a while. And have young children believe police of today are similar to 1700’s slave patrollers. Has this woman spent any time with the WPD? Does she live in the town? We are lucky to have them keeping us safe and being part of the fabric of our community. Who is she gonna call if she ever needs help? There is no place for this divisive culture in a great town like ours. Remember she planned this, she made it part of the curriculum and exposed middle schoolers to the hate. This was not a mistake.

  13. The Watertown Citizens for Black Lives respectfully requested an opportunity to meet with the Watertown Police Department and the Public Safety Committee of the Town Council. This is an opportunity for dialogue. Cancelling meetings is not a good way to deal with these issues, in my opinion. If we are to grow as a community, we need to hear from all sides in a manner of mutual support and respect. Calling persons “idiot” just fans the flames. We need to come together and repudiate use of the N-word. Let’s build an anti-racist Watertown. Why excoriate someone who is raising legitimate questions about an abuse which has plagued the US for centuries? Let’s hear all sides with respect and understanding.

    • Meeting was rescheduled, the police department is participating aren’t they? Can’t we work on being positive and stop with the negativity? It’s not helping to foster a working relationship with our local police department who has been doing a good job IMO.

  14. Ruth Henry has dedicated her life to teaching, art, family, and social justice. She was born and brought up in Watertown and deserves respect, not just as a fellow human being but also for her accomplishments, empathy and her desire to make the world a better place.

  15. First, to Mark Ford
    The meeting you mentioned was in response to several groups in town analyzing data from the WPD. The data the police provided, showed higher rates of blacks being arrested and is something that needs to be looked at further. As for a meeting, these are public servants and departments paid for by tax payers and all of us have a right to question things like this. No different than someone questioning the school on their policies or incidences. My understanding is that there were scheduled meetings planned earlier but at the last minute both the WPD and the Town Councilor that manages this committee cancelled. Cancelling at the last minute is questionable. Shouldn’t those involved in this committee being held accountable to answering to the residents? Another thing for all to keep in mind is that there are a lot of high school and college age students involved in these social justice groups and we should applaud them for their involvement and commitment to be part of the solution. Right now the atmosphere in town is one of intolerance, dysfunction and acceptance to racism.

    What seems pretty obvious right now is the double standard at play. So some want only the teacher questioned, fired, etc yet want to give a “Pass” to other departments in town. Let’s not forget this teacher has many years of praise and accolades behind her and only one questionable incident. We have departments in town that have repeated questionable incidents and yet not many are speaking out against that.

    But here is what really needs to happen at this point. An outside independent third party needs to be called in to look at multiple areas of our town including the Watertown Public Schools, the Watertown Police, our Town Council and Manager and perhaps some other department heads in town that also have a reputation of harassment and bullying. No department should be in charge of “investigating” themselves.

    And as a taxpayer in town, I want more information about whether we are overfunding certain departments. Another story last night on Fox 25 News about Watertown references this and if we are then that needs some looking into. If there is a way to reduce the burden to every tax payer in town then it needs to be looked into.

    The same criteria some are using to judge this teacher should apply across the board.

    • Let’s have a town meeting to question the teacher involved, the principal and school superintendent since they are town employees that should answer to the community’s concerns for school bullying, racial incidents and now this biased attack on the police. I’m still waiting to hear about racial incidents regarding Watertown PD or complaints of police brutality. I applaud the police here for engaging with the youth and other residents in Watertown through the community policing programs they have implemented throughout the years.

  16. Ashley, that’s great that you have a high regard for many of Ruth Henry’s accomplishments. However, she is employed as a Spanish language teacher in the WPS and should focus her efforts on the task of teaching and promoting this richest of the Romance languages. That is what she is being paid to do. Her political beliefs belong outside of the classroom. My son had her and though he had no problem with her, said that she was very liberal and opinionated and, used much class time for discussion (one way) on her social and political beliefs. He told me this a number of years AFTER having her as a teacher knowing that it would have infuriated me.

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