Here is the response. I am not surprised by the lack of procedure for such a decision, and I am unhappy about the outcome.
Thanks for your question. There is not a “set” criterion for an event such
A School Board is clearly within their authority to make decisions which
they believe are in the best interest of the district.
We have had such an outcry from literally hundreds of patrons concerned
about the showing of the welcome back to school talk that we were taken by
Had there been time to functionally inform parents of their choice to let
their kids view this or not, I believe that would have been done.
The choice to opt out would have been a valid option that would have met the
desires of parents on either side of the issue by allowing those who wanted
to see it to do so, and those who didn’t, to opt out. Logistically it would
have been a nightmare to do this adequately.
We truthfully didn’t receive an official announcement of this until last
night. The Board made the only decision they felt would be responsive to
both groups, with the understanding that anyone will be still able to view
the speech at home in various forms after the speech is given.
I would also tell you that independent of the decision, I personally would
have not blinked if my own kids watched the speech. But viewing it on my own
is a fair alternative. But for good or bad, and many times for both, A
Board must make a decision that they feel is responsible and fair. I believe
given the parameters of this situation they have done their best to do just
I certainly understand that there will not be much you will not agree with
concerning this reply, and I truly respect that.
I am adding a copy of the memo that we sent out to our schools.
DATE: September 3, 2009
FROM: Supt. Sorensen
RE: Video feed of President Obama speaking to school children.
State Superintendent Larry Shumway sent official word on September 2, 2009,
announcing “President Obama’s back-to-school message to school children.”
Supt. Shumway’s message says “the decision to watch (or not to watch) the
President’s speech should be made by each [district] LEA. There is no
requirement from the USOE, the U.S. Department of Education, or from the
President that any student watch.”
Given the late timing of the announcement, Nebo District has decided that
district students will not participate in watching this speech at school.
The tight timeline presented two main concerns:
1) With respect to parental responsibility, Nebo District would have
given parents the right to opt out of having their student watch this
speech. This would have been difficult to appropriately accomplish in such
a short time.
2) Adjusting for established school and class schedules, technology
availability, and previously planned activities on such short notice would
have created administrative and curriculum challenges for schools.
Parents who wish to watch the speech live next Tuesday can find it on C-SPAN
and on the internet at www.whitehouse.gov. We would encourage parents who
desire to have their student watch the speech outside of school time on the