Oregon school board fires superintendent amid gay pride, BLM flag controversy

In the wake of a new district policy banning the display of politically-charged symbols such as flags supporting gay pride and Black Lives Matter (BLM), a school board in Oregon voted to fire its superintendent, reportedly for not enforcing the new prohibitions with sufficient speed, as Portland ABC affiliate KATU notes.

Last week, the Newberg school board took formal action against Superintendent Joe Morelock, voting 4-3 to relieve him of his duties, and while those supporting his removal did not provide specifics behind their decision, it was claimed that extensive discussion on the matter took place during a non-public executive session.

Morelock was under contract with the district to serve as superintendent through June 30 of 2024, and his firing represents another in a series of controversies to plague the Newberg schools in recent months.

This summer, the same four board members behind Morelock’s ouster also voted to ban displays on district property of politically-themed flags, including the aforementioned symbols of BLM and gay pride, though after public outcry, that policy was adjusted to prohibit staff and educators from displaying “signs, symbols or flags that depict support or opposition relating to a political, quasipolitical or controversial topic.”

As the Daily Mail noted, board member Brandy Penner opined on Wednesday that Morelock was in fact fired for not aggressively or rapidly implementing the symbols ban.

Morelock seemed to agree with that assessment, saying during an appearance on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s (OPB) Think Out Loud that he believes the board has allowed its focus to be diverted from students and staff and is instead trained on the symbols ban.

While the superintendent maintained that he was indeed enforcing the policy as enacted by the board this summer, he also acknowledged that there may have been some who were “frustrated” by the pace of his efforts and that he and the conservative majority on the panel possess differing “philosophies” about the direction of the district.

As OPB further noted, Oregon House Democrats as well as the BIPOC caucus in the state legislature have voiced their opposition to Morelock’s dismissal and have vowed to “take action” when they next convene, though what form such action might take remains to be seen.

As the experience in Newberg illustrates, parents and concerned citizens in districts across the country are no longer willing to stand idly by and allow political indoctrination to go unchecked in their local schools, and increasing numbers of administrators who are unwilling to accept that fact run the risk of meeting the same professional fate as Morelock.