"Employees shall not use students to further their positions in issues related to the annual school election, the school budget, board and employee negotiations or political elections. Use of fear and intimidation . . . is prohibited," according to the three-page document that was prepared by Superintendent Joesph Carol.
"The main issue is strictly fairness," said John Hill, board president. ''The policy reviews the state statute of what is permitted and not permitted in the classroom, to ensure that a controversial issue is presented fairly."
Drafted by the policy committee, the policy reiterates a state statute that prohibits distribution of literature that promotes, favors or opposes any candidate or school budget.
"We feel we were following this all along," said Mae McNair, Cinnaminson Education Association president."We don't see the problem the board sees. We will closely monitor any action the board takes against a teacher but we don't see the problem that they see."
Despite the complaints, board vice president Susan Markowitz said the board felt no pressing need to institute a policy against classroom politicking. The new policy, she said, underlines guidelines that are practiced.
"This was not a last-minute push. We did not feel any outside pressure," she said.
"Personally, I think the interest in this special policy is out of proportion," Markowitz said. "I'm floored at the amount of attention it is getting."
But board member William Fenton said the board did feel compelled to address the issue because of the complaints during board meetings and problems that arose during last year's election, when three board posts were filled including an unexpired two-year term vacated after Richard Taylor resigned one year into his three-year term.