Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance is coming under criticism for a retweet he made that asked educators to reach out to students who may have felt maligned during the U.S. presidential campaign.
The tweet from Josh Starr, a former Montgomery County superintendent, said: "Educators: tomorrow pls show your muslim, black, latino, jewish, disabled, or just non-white St's, that you love them and will protect them!"
The reweet URL is here.
The tweet was posted on a Baltimore County parents' Facebook page and drew fire from Baltimore County politicians who say the tweet discriminates against white people.
Del. Joe Cluster, who represents Baltimore County in Annapolis, said he found the language offensive.
"I am putting a letter together asking for his resignation," Cluster said. "That viewpoint is racist and biased toward white students," he said.
Johnny Ray Salling, a Baltimore County Republican, said the words that were in the tweet are causing division.
He said the tweet's explicit reference to "non-white" students excludes white students.
"We don't need that. I believe that causes division," Salling said.
On the Advocates for Baltimore County Schools Facebook page, an angry exchange began between parents about whether it was appropriate or not. Some said all children should receive special attention, not just certain groups. Others said that while the tweet may not have been well worded, it expressed the view that children of races or religions that had been criticized or singled out by Donald Trump during the divisive campaign might feel unsettled by his election to the presidency.
Dance issued a statement explaining that his intent was to show support for students after "one of the most divisive campaigns in modern history." He made clear that he was exercising his responsibility as an educator and school system leader, and pointedly noted that "Education is not void of politics."
"As the Superintendent of one of the largest most diverse school systems in our country, I always lead from an equity lens with an intense focus on all student populations and ensuring they feel welcome and supported," he said in the statement.
"Comments were made that disenfranchised several groups of students we serve in Baltimore County Public Schools. As our nation moves forward, it is our collective responsibility to make sure all students feel safe and know we are their advocates."
Dance's spokesman said the superintendent has no plans to resign.
Ann Miller, a conservative member of the county school board, wrote a letter to Dance late Thursday saying that she didn't think it was appropriate for him to suggest teachers "have a discussion about the results framed in bigotry, fear, and hate, and that's why our non-white kids need to be reassured."
Miller, who has often criticized Dance, said she is concerned that his comments "are creating an environment of fear where there is no evidence it is warranted. People are welcome to their feelings, but that doesn't mean those unproven opinions should drive the type of conversation I think you are suggesting we as a school system should initiate. That borders on schoolhouse activism."
Instead, she suggested that the students be taught about the "new beginning" that will come after the election.