Letter to the editor: Praise for Hempfield superintendent, board over homecoming tiff
Regarding the homecoming parade tiff between Hempfield Township Supervisor Doug Weimer and the Hempfield School Board (“Hempfield supervisor ‘upset’ at changes to school homecoming parade,” Sept. 26, TribLIVE): The board and Superintendent Tammy Wolicki are to be commended for their proactive approach to a highly volatile issue — exercising legitimate restraint on “political” speech, otherwise protected under the U.S Constitution, at school-sponsored functions.
It is important to understand that, in order to comply with First Amendment constraints, the district must either ban all political speech or permit all political speech. It cannot pick and choose, allowing local officials to campaign in the homecoming parade, while at other times banning “political” statements that the district deems distasteful or inflammatory. Wolicki’s letter to the township is plain on its face — the issue is political campaigning at the parade. But what was the township’s response?
If Weimer’s objection genuinely revolved around the participation of the volunteer fire departments, then upon receiving Wolicki’s letter, why did he not take the simple and obvious step of contacting Wolicki for clarification? More importantly, if the township had previously supported the parade based solely on the best interests of township residents (including expending township resources for parade logistics), then the district’s ban on political campaigning, which affects only the supervisors’ self-interest in their own re-elections, should have had no effect on township support.
Instead, the township lashed out, threatening to withdraw its support of the parade in an act of obvious, petty and ill-informed retaliation. Weimer’s actions speak for themselves.
Nancy L. Harris