The Cobb County school board, located outside of Atlanta, has voted to terminate the employment of a 5th-grade teacher who read an acclaimed children’s book about “being true to yourself.”
The school board’s four Republican members voted to fire Katherine Rinderle on Thursday, while the 3 Democrats voted against her termination. She was removed from her classroom in March after her school received a complaint from one parent that she’d read “My Shadow is Purple” to her class.
Rinderle purchased the book at the school’s Scholastic Book Fair. Before reading the book to her fifth-grade gifted class, students voted on a variety of books and overwhelmingly chose “My Shadow is Purple.”
The book promotes mutual respect, tolerance, and free expression. The story includes a nonbinary character.
BREAKING NEWS: The Cobb County Board of Education votes 4-3 to reject a district tribunal recommendation and fire teacher Katie Rinderle for reading a book about gender identity, “My Shadow Is Purple”, to her fifth grade class. #gapol pic.twitter.com/AimJ06hVb0
— Rahul Bali (@rahulbali) August 18, 2023
The board ignored a panel of three retired county educators who ruled last week against the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate Rinderle’s contract.
According to the school district, Rinderle violated at least six policies and administrative rules by reading the book to students.
Two of those rules are apparently based on 2022 Georgia laws that restrict teaching “divisive concepts” in the classroom and being more transparent in communicating classroom materials to parents.
“Divisive concepts” include topics that relate to race and sexual identity.
The Cobb County School Board has voted to terminate Katie Rinderle – enforcing vague policies & ignoring the tribunal's recommendation not to terminate.
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) August 18, 2023
In a statement released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Rinderle said:
“I am disappointed in the district’s decision to terminate me for reading an inclusive and affirming book – one that is representative of diverse student identities.”
“The district is sending a harmful message that not all students are worthy of affirmation in being their unapologetic and authentic selves.”
“This decision, based on intentionally vague policies, will result in more teachers self-censoring in fear of not knowing where the invisible line will be drawn. Censorship perpetuates harm and students deserve better.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help Rinderle.
The Cobb County board voted 4-3 Thursday to terminate the contract of Katherine Rinderle, disagreeing with the recommendation of a panel of retired county educators. https://t.co/F3GsdhSgsp
— The Advocate (@TheAdvocateMag) August 18, 2023
A fifth-grade teacher in the state of Georgia was fired for reading an inclusive and affirming book to her students. One which was sold at a district-approved book fair.
A single parent complained.
And now, that teacher is out of a job.
“My Shadow is Purple” – by… pic.twitter.com/kkVWvXlNS9
— Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) August 18, 2023