Billings District 2 teachers met as planned Tuesday morning at Faith Chapel Church for a districtwide staff meeting amid complaints from some SD2 employees and the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana regarding the event’s location.
At least three teachers opted out of the meeting, choosing instead to take personal leave rather than attend. Superintendent Keith Beeman said that number may inch up as the district continues to process the paperwork teachers file when they take leave.
Watching teachers as they entered and left the church’s auditorium, Jeff Greenfield, president of the Billings Education Association, said some were visibly bothered by their surroundings while others stopped to snap photos of the religious displays outside the auditorium. Others seemed to enjoy the venue.
“It ran the whole gamut,” Greenfield said.
This is the second year Billings School District 2 has held its back-to-school staff meeting in the West End church. Both years the choice of venue has elicited complaints from some district teachers uncomfortable with attending a work meeting in a place of worship.
On Friday, the ACLU of Montana sent a letter to Beeman requesting the district provide it with copies of communication, invoices and any other documents associated with staging the staff meeting at the church. Beeman said he would make good on the request.
Of the presentation, both Greenfield and Beeman were pleased with the results.
“It was good, useful information for the teachers,” Greenfield said.
Most of the teachers came away energized for the school year, he said.
“I think it went very well,” Beeman said.
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