State backs school on flag dispute
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The finding reads: ''[The Waleykos] now claim that [the assembly] primarily involved human sexual education or human sexuality issues."
''They go by the word 'primarily,' " she said. ''According to those laws, you can hang anything you want in any place."
Gail Valbona, another parent who opposes the flag's presence, also focused on the Department of Education's wording.
''The spirit of the law is undermined by the word 'primarily,' " Valbona said. ''It seems that this whole thing and the reason why they have gone against the Waleykos is the word 'primarily.' At least that's how I read it.
''How much is 'primarily?' " she said. ''It creates a loophole."
But LaCroix, who expected approval from the Department of Education, said the school system followed Massachusetts guidelines.
''We were being consistent with the goals we have in the school system for tolerance and also consistent with Department of Education regulations about tolerance and violence," LaCroix said. ''I never felt what we were doing was teaching sexuality."
Valbona, who said she does not have a child in middle school yet, said she was surprised at the finding. ''I thought for sure the Waleykos had a case," she said. ''When I read the law, I thought the school was wrong in not notifying the parents of the content [of the assembly]. Not just that there was an assembly, but the assembly would contain references to someone's sexual orientation."
Some parents would not have cared, she said; others would have complained or kept children home from school.
''It is my view that it is age-inappropriate and that is my objection," Valbona said. ''I still think no matter whether they were in their rights or not, I still think it was age-inappropriate."
LaCroix countered that there will always be classes that are age-inappropriate, no matter what the subject. ''I think that's true in curriculum," she said. ''I think that's a key role that parents play."
In the wake of the ruling, the Waleykos are weighing various options, including moving out of town. ''We looked at houses and everything," Randall Waleyko said. ''We are still considering it because of this issue."
Regarding his complaints about teaching sexuality in the schools, Waleyko said, ''We could follow up further, but we don't know what we are going to do. As far as the flag goes, there's nothing we can do about that."
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.