Superintendent reflects on 'retweet,' resignation
Don Grotting, superintendent of the Beaverton School District, has shed a little more light on last week's resignation of an administrator, which followed a note on Twitter with an anti-immigration message.
The issue arose two weekends ago when Steve Phillips, deputy superintendent, retweeted a message. Soon after, Grotting distanced himself from the message. The entire Beaverton School Board also did so. And on Tuesday, April 17, Phillips resigned.
This week, Grotting would not say if he requested the resignation, saying only, "I accepted his resignation."
Grotting did confirm that the decision to part ways revolved around that retweet only, and not about other issues related to Phillips.
"Beaverton has done a lot of work regarding equity. That retweet did not fall within my values and beliefs, nor the values and beliefs of the Beaverton School District," Grotting said this week.
The retweet read: "One of the biggest PREVENTABLE cause of death in America? An Avg of 12 Americans are killed daily by illegal Aliens in our country. That's over 4300 Americans a YEAR!! They are more dangerous than assault rifles and should be BANNED from our country."
The tweet ended with a hashtag: "#Marchtoendillegalkillings."
Public schools in Oregon, as in the rest of the nation, are mandated to serve all school-aged youths within the district's boundaries, and do not have the option of selecting which students to serve. That's the reason districts in Oregon do not seek to know the citizenship status — legal or illegal, documented or undocumented — of the student population.
"Children come to us as they are," Grotting said. "Whether it has to do with language spoken, or race, or gender identification, we see those as assets."
Grotting said he distanced himself from the retweet because of both the facts and the tone of the commentary. The statistics on the number of homicides likely is wrong; most government agencies do not tabulate crime data for undocumented immigrants.
Grotting said he has heard from staff and from members of the community, regarding the incident. He said, "opinions differ."
However, he said the message ran counter to the district's core belief in inclusion.
"This is a step backward. We're going to look at our work and practices, and make sure we're going in the direction we want," he said. "We support every child."