ROCHESTER, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Monday night was a Rochester Community Schools Board of Education Special meeting. On the agenda was “Board and Superintendent Norms and Expectations” which was moderated by Scott Morrell who is on the Board of Directors at Michigan Association of School Boards.

At the end of an approximately three-hour board meeting which allowed parents to have public comment at the end (only three minutes each), seven things were agreed upon to be norms including being nicer to each other and to stay on topic at board meetings.

Parents have concerns beyond board norms.

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At issue for some of the parents in attendance weren’t the “norms” being discussed and how the board should agree to conduct business and get along better – which they argued about throughout the meeting. Instead, there were parents who spoke up about inappropriate books and the “grooming” of their children within the school system.

Grooming, as described by many who oppose teachers and other adults indoctrinating school-age students with their own beliefs, is when someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.

Mother’s outrage.

One parent in particular, Azita Giroux, expressed outrage after discovering that her daughter had been exposed to a book that she deems inappropriate for her age. This occurred at Delta Kelly Elementary School in Oakland Charter Township, where eight-year-olds were read the book “Call Me Max” by one of their teachers.

About the book.

Call Me Max is a children’s book written by Kyle Lukoff. It is part of the “Max and Friends” series and follows the story of Max, a young transgender boy. The book is aimed at early readers and introduces the concept of being transgender. In the book, Max navigates his experiences at school, where he explains to his friends and teachers that he wants to be called “Max” instead of his birth name.

Personal stories from parents.

Giroux, a mother of two girls at Delta Kelly, shared a deeply personal story during the board meeting’s public comment period. She revealed that her eight-year-old daughter had asked if she and her younger six-year-old sister might be transgender after being read books like Call Me Max, My Shadow Is Purple, and My Shadow Is Pink.

Giroux expressed her shock and frustration at what happened, as she had planned to introduce these topics to her children at a more appropriate age. She emphasized that while she teaches her children to be kind and accepting, she believes that discussions about gender identity and sexuality should be managed by parents, not educators. A video of Giroux at the meeting can be seen here.

Parent says teacher lied to him about keeping in communication about school lesson.

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David Tallman, another concerned parent, shared his own experience during the school board meeting. He explained that his Rochester Hills Brooklands Elementary School child came home discussing The Prince and the Knight, a book similar in nature to Call Me Max.

Tallman noted that when he originally met with the child’s third-grade teacher, he saw that her classroom prominently featured pride flags, signaling a commitment to inclusivity. However, he felt blindsided when his child was exposed to content he found inappropriate without prior warning.

Tallman recounted his conversation with the teacher, where he requested to be informed before such topics were introduced since his child is a foster child and has some special learning requirements and he “picks things up a littler slower.” Tallman asked the teacher for a “warning before you broach these subjects so that when he comes home, I can answer his questions and I can discuss it with him.” He said the teacher responded by saying, “Great.”

Despite this agreement, the teacher proceeded to read the book to Tallman’s foster child without notifying him first. The teacher’s justification was rooted in professional development (PD) training provided by the Rochester Community Schools (RCS), which encourages building an inclusive classroom library.

Parent-teacher communication breakdown.

Frustrated, Tallman learned that parental notification was deemed to be unnecessary as long as the children selected the books themselves. Tallman said the teacher was told by Assistant Superintendent Cory Heitsh, who had a letter of support from the former Superintendent Robert Shaner, that this was the case.

Tallman felt deceived by this explanation and said at the special meeting, “She (teacher) bought 20 books, and she put all 20 of them on the top of the bookshelf, and then the kid picked the book. What else was he gonna pick – the New York Times? He read the book that she put right in the front. So I felt like she lied to me.”