Edwardsburg Public Schools apologizes for guest speaker’s comments

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

EDWARDSBURG — Edwardsburg Public Schools has released an apology to the district after students and parents objected to a speaker’s presentation last week.

In a Tuesday newsletter to parents and guardians, Superintendent Jim Knoll announced the district has completed its investigation of the Sept. 19 assembly that featured speaker and author Pam Stenzel, who addressed matters related to family planning and reproductive health, including the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and advocating abstinence. Video of the assembly can be accessed here.

The concerns raised over the assembly prompted an investigation into the presentation, the booking of the speaker, and Edwardsburg Public School’s process/procedures for assemblies and/or guest speakers. Superintendent Jim Knoll said the District did not provide parents any advance notice of the content of the assembly, nor did the it provide parents with the prior opportunity to excuse their children from attending the assembly.

Knoll apologized and said the district should have given the parents an opportunity to excuse their children from that assembly.

“The responsibility for protecting our students and our parents ultimately falls on me as the Superintendent,” he said. “Even though the current board policy does not specifically require it, I should have done more to vet the speaker, and to ensure that notice of the likely content of what the speaker would share at the assembly was provided to parents, along with the opportunity to excuse their children from the assembly.”

Knoll said the investigating team is preparing a formal investigative report that will include the findings along with the corrective action that the district will take to ensure that this type of situation does not reoccur, which will likely include changes to current board policies and the district’s administrative guidelines. That report will be finalized in the near future, and will be provided to these parents who submitted complaints, as well as to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Board of Education.

“Many students, parents, and community members are legitimately upset,” he said. “For that, we are deeply sorry.”