After more than two months of paid administrative leave, Peggy Brown is returning to work at the Prosser School District on Thursday.
But she will be separated from children, said Superintendent Ray Tolcacher.
The former Prosser Heights Elementary School library assistant will now work as an office assistant in the special services department.
“We did an investigation. I had to take some kind of action,” Tolcacher said. “I did what was best for the school district and the kids and I felt the assignment was appropriate.”
Tolcacher placed Brown on leave in February after the public reacted to her Facebook post concerning the Day Without Immigrants boycott.
People closed businesses nationwide, and kept children home from school in early February to demonstrate the importance of immigrants to the U.S. economy.
“I had an absolutely great day today,” the post on Brown’s Facebook page said. “Lots of grade school kids stayed home today for the immigrants protest. I loved it. Sure alleviated the overcrowding at school. No out of control kids, like it should be going to school. Like school should be. I hope they can do it again soon.”
I did what was best for the school district and the kids and I felt the assignment was appropriate.
Ray Tolcacher, Prosser superintendent
Brown’s message became public days after an uproar over a Facebook post by Keene-Riverview Elementary teacher Cheriese Rhode. She suggested people call Immigrations and Customs Enforcement as a response to the protest.
Rhode returned to the classroom in mid-March.
Leo Perales, the vice chair of Consejo Latino, was one of the people asking for the school district to alleviate the fears of community members that their children wouldn’t be safe attending school.
“I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we would like to see an explanation as to why she was reinstated,” he said. “They didn’t provide one for Cheriese Rhode.”
Tolcacher said he can’t speak about the personnel issues.
While Perales understands the sensitivity of the situation, not responding to the remarks erodes the credibility of the school district, he said.
But we need to understand that there is a fine line between free speech and speech that may incite violence, threaten someone’s safety and lead to the separation of families.
Leo Perales, vice chair of Consejo Latino
Consejo Latino wants to know what actions the district took to make the schools inclusive and safe for the students mentioned by Rhode and Brown.
The group also wants policies in place to protect the safety of undocumented students.
“We should all support varying points of view and welcome proper disclosure to find answers to a host of issues,” Perales said in a letter to the school district. “But we need to understand that there is a fine line between free speech and speech that may incite violence, threaten someone’s safety and lead to the separation of families.”
Tolcacher issued a statement about how the district protects the privacy of all of its students. It also doesn’t ask for or track a student’s citizenship or immigration status.
“We will continue providing all students their legal right to access free public K-12 education, regardless of their religion, their place of birth, their language, their citizenship, the parents’ status or any other legally protected characteristics,” Tolcacher said.
Brown did not respond to a request for an interview.