Administrators said by taking the issue to the media, it inflamed what would have been just a routine personnel matter, turning it into a national story. District administrators have heard from people across the country on the issue in recent months, many who chastised and ridiculed them, Novotny said.
“Sadly, a significant majority of the comments received have been rude and disgusting character assassinations that could lead one to conclude that many who preach tolerance and observation of First Amendment protections do so only to provide themselves a forum and a protection for their own foul-mouthed commentary,” she said.
As part of the settlement, Sorrell had to issue an apology stating that she did not intend her actions or comments over the last three months to suggest that administrators were intolerant toward homosexuality. The settlement also dictated Sorrell and East Allen issue a joint statement in which Sorrell acknowledged that EACS has the right to regulate school-sponsored publications and EACS acknowledged students have certain rights under the First Amendment.
Novotny said administrators accepted Sorrell’s apology.
Adding further insult to injury, Superintendant Kay Novotny attributed the 8-year veteran teacher's actions to her "relative youth and inexperience" and issued her a written reprimand for "neglect of duty and insubordination." Novotny accused others of engaging in "character assassination" for commenting publicly about the school's apparent "intolerance" towards gays. By blaming Sorrell and the media for this mess, Novotny and other school officials have completely missed the point on where they went wrong. The media attention and criticism directed at the school had nothing to do with anything Sorrell said publicly; rather, it was the school's own comments about the incident which ignited a national firestorm.
When this issue first arose, Principal Ed Yoder explained why Sorrell should have obtained prior approval for Megan Chase's editorial promoting gay tolerance. In a letter to the journalism staff and Sorrell after the editorial ran, Yoder accused them of exposing the school's students to "inappropriate material." If an editorial about gay tolerance is "inappropriate" in the eyes of the school, it raised a serious concern about what the school's policy was on gay tolerance. Assistant Principal Andy Melin told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, "there is no policy and didn’t think the board should have to go as far as to write one." Sorrell's attorney hit the nail on the head. “They are blaming Amy for how they’ve been portrayed in the media, but they still haven’t accepted responsibility for any of their own conduct, and if there was anybody that was in a position to repair their own public image, it’s them,” Proctor said. “All they would have to do is issue a formal policy on tolerance regarding homosexuality and free speech, but throughout this they’ve failed to do that.”
Sorry, Superintendent Novotny, but Amy Sorrell and her students demonstrated far more maturity and experience than you and your staff throughout this entire ordeal. Your parting shots at Sorrell and the media make you and your school's administrators look even smaller than they already appeared in the eyes of the public. If this is what you take from this incident, we can only assume you will be condemned to making more foolish errors in judgment in your future management of this public school.