LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — A teacher at Alton C. Crews Middle School in Lawrenceville became the target of parent complaints about a “Black Lives Matter” poster hanging in her classroom.
Paige McGaughey, an eighth-grade language arts teacher, said the poster represents her beliefs.
“I wanted to put the poster in my classroom because I love the poster and I love the message. I believe in the message,” McGaughey told 11Alive.
She said George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis back in May is what motivated her to spread this message of equality. But she said that, last week, two families complained when they saw the poster hanging during her virtual class.
McGaughey said a parent was worried she’d only be teaching curriculum geared towards Black students.
She respectfully told the families the poster wasn’t going anywhere and that’s when the complaints went to the district.
“I was told that it was a divisive message and I was told it was a distraction in my classroom and that it impacted my effectiveness as a teacher,” said McGaughey.
Gwinnett County Public Schools said that, although officials are not asking her to take down the poster, they added in a statement:
“Having received complaints from two parents about a teacher having a Black Lives Matter poster in the background of her video conferencing sessions with students, the principal spoke with the teacher. He asked her to consider how not to make this poster a distraction for the students in the class. Our employees do have the same civic responsibilities and privileges as any other citizen, including actively supporting causes. However, that is not usually done in the workplace as it can become an effectiveness issue if it creates a disruption to the learning environment (i.e. complaints and or concerns raised from parents, students, or others in the community).”
McGaughey said her intention is just to create an atmosphere welcoming all students.
“I have things in my room that support the LGBTQ community, students of different faith,” she said. “True learning can’t take place if students don’t feel like you care about them.”
She said she’s also gotten supportive messages from parents as well.