620 – Teaching Of Controversial Issues; Academic Freedom

Definitions. For purposes of this policy, a “controversial issue” shall mean a topic of significant academic inquiry about which substantial groups of citizens of this community, state or nation hold sincere, conflicting points of view. “Academic freedom” is the opportunity of educators and students to study, investigate, present, interpret, and discuss facts and ideas relevant to the curriculum and course being taught, giving consideration to the maturity level of the students.

Coverage. It is the belief of the Board that when controversial issues are addressed in the educational program, such issues should be fairly presented in a spirit of honest academic freedom. Students should recognize the validity of other points of view and should learn to formulate their own opinions based upon dispassionate, objective, unbiased study and discussion of the facts related to the controversy.

It shall be the policy of the District to encourage full discussion of controversial issues in a spirit of academic freedom that shows students that they have the right to disagree with the opinions of others, but that they also have the responsibility to base the disagreement on facts and to respect the right of others to hold conflicting opinions.

It shall be the responsibility of the instructor to present full and fair opportunity and means for students to study, consider, and discuss all sides of controversial issues, including, but not limited to, political philosophies. It shall be the responsibility of the instructor to refrain from advocating partisan causes, sectarian religious views, or selfish propaganda of any kind through any classroom or school device. Instructors may express their own personal opinions as long as students are made aware it is a personal opinion, that they may disagree without fear of reprisal or harassment, and so long as students are allowed to reach their own conclusions independently.

Procedures. When controversial topics are addressed with speakers or special activities or programs, parents will be notified in advance. Students will be told prior to the presentations the controversial nature of the issue(s) and the probable bias(es) of the presenter(s). Alternative assignments will be provided for those students whose parents request that the students not participate.

Date of Revision: April 21, 1997

Legal References: 279.8, 280.14, Code of Iowa

URBANDALE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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