Britt Dowdy, President of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers was at Newport Harbor High last Friday, trying to get someone to get rid of the rats on campus. Because of his advocacy on behalf of students, teachers, and staff, he has been banned from the campus of Newport Harbor High School  for one week because he, according to the official letter, “… disrupted the orderly operation of school activities and interfered with the peaceful conduct of campus activities, specifically you caused students and teachers to leave their classrooms during regular hours of instruction on April 27, 2018.”

This is so absurd, I hardly know where to begin.

First… Britt Dowdy did not disrupt anything. Any disruption was caused by an inept school district administration that has failed to solve a rat problem that has plagued the school (pun intended) for at least two years. Had the rats been dealt with in a competent manner when complaints first started, Dowdy would have not been on the campus.

Second… Britt Dowdy did not cause anyone to do anything. Anyone who left the campus to protest did so of their own free will because they are sick and tired of seeing rats and wanted to get some attention drawn to getting rid of them.

Third… What on Earth is a one week ban supposed to accomplish? Why a week? Why not a day, a month, or until June 21 when school is over and everyone will forget about the problem? Why a week?… Because this is not discipline, it is retaliation. And what happens after a week? Will Dowdy return from some re-education camp as a reformed union activist who has seen the error of his way?

No, he won’t. He’ll be just as active, perhaps even more so. Besides, Dowdy is showing the spine of leadership that teachers have been seeking for a very long time and they like what they see. Finally, someone has their back.

Fourth… How about the many more students who recently walked out to protest gun violence? No student was reprimanded or suspended because the district gave them the leeway to protest, then return to class. But Dowdy… well, we have to throw the book at him for wanting to take firm action to stop a serious campus problem.

The letter was signed by NHHS principal Sean Boulton, the latest person to be left by the superintendent to fend for him or herself when the going gets tough.

The letter and the ban are a joke – solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist. What is serious is the rat problem at NHHS. But rats don’t read and I doubt they’d leave for a week if we asked them.

Instead of denying Dowdy his right to meet on campus with union members, the school district should have met with him to try to understand why students and teachers are willing to walk out over this problem and to try to find a solution.

But that means using the “logic” stuff…

Sandy Asper covers it nicely in her recent commentary, which you can read here:

Remember: Work diligently between now and November to elect four new trustees to the school board – people with no allegiances to the current trustees or the status quo.

Steve Smith