A Wisconsin school board terminated the employment of first-grade teacher Melissa Tempel on Wednesday after she attempted to incorporate Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton’s song, “Rainbowland,” into a concert back in March. The song, which describes a fantasy where everyone gets along, had been planned and rehearsed by the first-grade students for their upcoming concert. However, they were disappointed to learn that the song had been removed from the set list.

Tempel’s termination came after the Waukesha school board blocked the performance of “Rainbowland” during a spring concert, citing the song as too controversial. On April 3, Tempel was placed on leave by the school district, and Superintendent James Sebert sent a letter in May recommending her termination. Tempel had to undergo a hearing with school officials to discuss her termination.

During the hearing, Tempel’s lawyers argued that her social media posts were a form of exercising her free speech rights. However, Superintendent Sebert stated that her social media activity brought negative attention to the school district and was considered intolerable behavior. Tempel defended her actions, stating that she believed the public had a right to know that “Rainbowland” would not be allowed.

The termination occurred due to Tempel allegedly violating three school policies by venting online about the decision to ban her students from performing the song. The hearing received protests from both supporters and opponents. Tempel took to Twitter to announce her termination and expressed her determination to keep fighting for what she believes is right.

In response to the situation, Superintendent Sebert clarified that the board’s decision was not based on Tempel’s choice of song but rather her failure to follow board policies and express her concerns properly. He emphasized the district’s commitment to free speech but also the responsibility to enforce policies when employee speech negatively impacts the learning environment.

Tempel, despite her termination, remains dedicated to her role as a teacher and plans to raise awareness about what she perceives as discriminatory policies in public school districts.

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