Candidate defies warning. Will stage anti-teacher protest at Cherokee school.

A Republican candidate for governor intends to protest at a Cherokee school over the district’s failure to fire a teacher for asking kids wearing “Make America Great Again” shirts to turn them inside out after the slogan created tensions with other students in a math class.

UPDATE Tuesday morning:

In defending his intent to protest tomorrow at River Ridge High School in Cherokee in spite of the school district’s refusal to allow him to do so, GOP candidate for governor Michael Williams cited Ron Hunton of the Cherokee Marshal’s Office.

The Williams campaign said, “Once again, the school is attempting to ignore the rights of Trump supporters to express their 1st Amendment rights. Just five days after Cherokee County Chief Marshal Ron Hunton told the Cherokee Tribune that our protest was lawful, the school is claiming it unlawful with threat of forceful police removal.”

Today, Hunton issued this statement to Williams:

I believe you, or someone, have taken what I said to the media out of context. What I said to the media is that your group, like anyone else, has a right to gather and speak on public property as long as that gathering does not impede traffic, ingress or egress to a location nor would it impede any public safety emergency response.

I have no control over county school property. The school officials have the right to determine who will come onto school property.

If your gathering has plans to be in the roadway, impede access to any property, or may in any way potentially impede public safety response – I strongly suggest you apply for a permit for the gathering. This application in no way interferes with your right to gather but rather allows public safety to plan for any emergency response to that area or any area near the gathering point that may be impacted.

You may call Cherokee County Developmental Services for assistance in the application process. Or, you may contact me and I will be glad to assist you in the application process. I have attached the County Ordinance on Special Events for your reference. Please pay particular attention to paragraph (4) that specifically addresses First Amendment issue(s).

Again, if I can be of any service to you please feel free to contact me.
Chief Ron Hunton, Cherokee Marshal’s Office

Original blog

Michael Williams, a longshot Republican candidate for governor, intends to ignore the warnings of the Cherokee County Schools superintendent and stage a protest at River Ridge High School Wednesday.

Seeing a political opportunity in a teacher’s request that two students wearing “Make America Great Again” T-shirts turn them inside out in the wake of the violent Charlottesville rally, Williams initially planned to protest last week. He alerted the media, but then discovered Cherokee schools were closed for fall break, suggesting he is not that familiar with the county. He rescheduled for this week.

The teacher said she made the request in August in a pre-calculus class because white supremacists and neo Nazis had co-opted the Trump slogan during the deadly rally. A highly regarded teacher who also teaches the AP classes, Lyn Orletsky was placed on leave for her actions. When I asked Cherokee to update her status, I was told, “We’re not commenting on her status due to the ongoing administrative investigation.  A certified math teacher is substitute teaching in her classes as we search for a replacement.”

Williams may be misreading the county in his decision to persist with his political event over the objections of the school district. While there are Cherokee parents who share his dismay at the actions of the teacher, many have commented on social media they don’t want their children’s school day interrupted or their kids used as props to score political points.

It would make more sense for Williams to target the Cherokee school board rather than a high school largely full of people too young to vote or without the authority to act.

Here is the Cherokee County Schools statement, followed by the candidate’s response:

Dear Parents, On behalf of the Superintendent, please be advised that the following message has been sent to Sen. Williams. We take the safety and security of your children very seriously and have planned additional precautions even beyond those noted below. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school’s front office so they can assist you.

Senator Williams,

On behalf of the Superintendent, this message is to advise you that the protest you’ve scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, according to your social media posts, will not be permitted on the River Ridge High School/Mill Creek Middle School campus or any other CCSD school campus, in accordance with federal and state laws.

Unfortunately, your protest was planned and announced by you and your campaign without any prior conversation with the Superintendent or his staff.  During today’s conversation, you were advised of the current situation regarding due process for the employee to whom you have referred.

We have determined that your protest, while advertised by you as “peaceful,” cannot be guaranteed as such, and will significantly disrupt teaching and learning and may endanger the safety of more than 3,200 students and staff.

While we strongly support the Constitutional right to air grievances through peaceful protest, we support the courts’ interpretation that this right is limited in regard to school campuses.  You may be unaware that the RRHS/MCMS campus, which serves Grades 6-12, has no public sidewalks or adequate right-of-way for congregating or parking; the signage you’ve advertised as your protest location is on school property.

In the interest of public safety and preventing a disruption of school activity, access to the RRHS/MCMS campus will be restricted all day on Wednesday, Sept. 27, to anyone other than RRHS/MCMS students, employees and parents who are dropping off/picking up their children or participating in other school-approved activities. Students, employees and parents are to bring appropriate identification.

School police officers and other public safety personnel will be monitoring the driveway entrances and elsewhere on campus to ensure students and employees stay safe and secure; and the campus will be on Code Yellow all day (no outside activities).  Traffic likely will be impacted; we encourage students to ride the bus and all drivers in the area to consider alternate routes.

Again, we strongly support the Constitutional right to air grievances, and, to that end, we invite you to consider an alternate location at our Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility at The Bluffs in Canton.  This campus includes a flagpole courtyard, which would provide a location for you and your supporters to congregate, and there is the opportunity for parking; please contact Police Chief Mark Kissel if you are interested in this location, so we can ensure adequate parking is available.

Also, please be aware that our School Board’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 at the facility at The Bluffs. The meeting is conducted in public, and the agenda is published on our website one week in advance.  The Board hears public comment at all of its meetings, and the guidelines are posted on our website as well.

As we have repeatedly stated publicly, and to you in a phone conversation earlier today, we do not agree with the teacher’s actions, and we support our students’ Constitutional right to express political opinions.  As you were told today, the Superintendent has authorized an administrative investigation, which is ongoing, and, as a result, we cannot discuss disciplinary action to ensure the Constitutional right of due process is afforded to all employees.

Sincerely,

Barbara P. Jacoby
Chief Communications Officer
Cherokee County School District

And here is what Williams responded:

Once again, the school is attempting to ignore the rights of Trump supporters to express their 1st Amendment rights. Just five-days after Cherokee County Chief Marshal Ron Hunton told the Cherokee Tribune that our protest was lawful, the school is claiming it unlawful with threat of forceful police removal. The school claims to have pre-determined that our peaceful protest, ‘will significantly disrupt teaching and learning and may endanger the safety of more than 3,200 students and staff…’ The arrogance of such statements is insulting to myself and our peaceful protestors. We will not be intimidated by your deceitful statement meant to prevent our lawful right to assemble. The protest will continue as planned. Once again, this school has failed to properly handle simple situations. Very disappointing.

Reader Comments 0

26 comments
Rachel Tramontana
Rachel Tramontana

Regardless of how you feel about the teacher's actions, the school is no place to hold a political rally/protest, especially when the school has already told him not to do it. These kids are there to learn. They need to have him arrested.

liberal4life
liberal4life

Politicians are always thinking about themselves, this guy appears to be one for sure.

williev2000
williev2000

As a past school system administrator, if a student's attire is disruptive of the school environment then it shall be prohibited. This is how most school system's Dress Code policies read. I can see how the shirt the student was wearing could easily be a disruption to the school. I am not sure the teacher, in isolation, can make that decision. A school administrator probably should have been consulted.

Susan Dreschel
Susan Dreschel

He has certainly managed to anger lots of conservative Cherokee County voters. Not a good way to start his candidacy!

Carol Griffin
Carol Griffin

So I guess this guy supports a student's right to wear a "DOTAR" shirt (yes they make them) or a Kaepernick jersey or "TakeAKnee" shirt, right? Can't be one-sided.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

David Duke co-opted Trump's slogan at the Charlottesville protest turned tragedy. All the teacher was trying to do was explain that. Also, students had complained to her before she brought it up.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

What a flipping idiot. Good God man.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

"Anti-teacher protest" Maureen?  Why not "Pro Freedom of Speech rally"?

That said, I'm not really sure what Williams is complaining about.  The teacher's action resulted in her removal from the classroom and the school system has publicly stated that they do not agree with her actions and that they support the student's rights to express political opinions.

My main concern would be the probable counter-protest by violent leftist organizations such as "Antifa" (which were the primary cause of violence at Charlottesville - and Berkeley, and Seattle, etc, etc, etc.)

Astropig
Astropig

@Lee_CPA2


I personally think that the school system's response to this guy is very reasonable.In fact,they seem to be the only ones in this whole situation that have shown some measure of tolerant even-handedness.They treated these students with dignity,they are apparently giving this teacher due process and they are telling this politician that he can protest all he wants-in a location that can handle the physical size of what he anticipates to be the attendees.That strikes me as reasonable.


I think back to some protests last year and in '15 where the protesters shut down the interstate in a couple of locations around the country (including downtown,briefly) and while I support their right to protest,that was a clear and present danger to everyone involved.



JKToole
JKToole

@Lee_CPA2 Who killed a demonstrator? Antifa? Who fired weapons at demonstrators? Anitfa? Who had a paramilitary security force at the protest? Antifa?

See who shows up today dressed in fatigues carrying weapons. I can tell you who it won't be.

Rhonda Chambers
Rhonda Chambers

Isn't this saying the same as kneeling, both are saying the country is not great. But I'm certainly not condoning this nuts actions at a school. He should be ashamed defying the school's orders.

PJ25
PJ25

There's too many highly educated and well paid parents in Cherokee County to let this snowflake back into a classroom again.  She'll be teaching in some rule-less cesspool system like DeKalb or APS next because she'll be blackballed from any quality school system. 

JKToole
JKToole

@PJ25 The irony is, the teacher (Lyn Orletsky) might be the most highly educated parent in Cherokee County. Haven't been following the story have you? Don't worry, she'll land on her feet, completely vindicated with her integrity firmly in her pocket.

You'll still be an anonymous misanthrope.

Michelle Beasley
Michelle Beasley

CHUMP WILL NEVER MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!! He is a con-man, sexual predator and liar! Plain and simple. This candidate WILL NEVER BE GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA! Plain and simple. LOCK THEM UP FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.

Harlequin
Harlequin

Maybe Mr Williams will become a great a Georgia politician as the late, not-so-great J.B. Stoner! 

alt2AJC
alt2AJC

First we have a teacher who can't leave her personal politics at the classroom door.

Then a politician who can't pass up an opportunity.

 

Astropig
Astropig

"I'm sorry, I was wrong, I apologize"


After 33 years (this week) of marriage, I can tell you that the above phrase can defuse a lot of hurt and anger. And believe me when I tell you that I've said it more than you can shake a stick at. We've all eaten a slice or two of humble pie and it hasn't killed us.


But as far as I know,this lady has been too big,too important,too righteous to apologize for her actions.The principal apologized,the superintendent apologized and the system apologized to the students and the parents.Anybody that has ever dealt with a school system knows that this is unusual,to say the least.Last week,she gave an explanation when this situation calls for an apology,and I'd argue that her tone deaf response made the situation mildly worse.


This could have been a two-three hour drama,tops, if this lady had just been the great calculus teacher everybody says that she is on that day and left these students alone.She could have handled this through channels and worried about what she was paid to do instead of taking on a role that she has no business assuming.


As for Williams, maybe the right message,but definitely the wrong messenger.


And I still say that the student that recorded this and released it is a hero.He/she didn't create an injustice-they prevented two.

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

Mike Williams is the same guy who showed up in our neighborhood  ( Piedmont Park ) with 12 white militia people....throwing up white supremacist gang signs....carrying assault weapons.


The AJC covered the event at the time and published a picture of the group.


Williams should be considered armed and dangerous. Stay on point with this one.

Gunluvr
Gunluvr

Sonny Perdue was a "long shot" candidate just before he was elected governor.

Sue McDonald
Sue McDonald

Another POS running for public office....