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The Wisconsin teacher who wanted her kids to sing 'Rainbowland' says the school district plans to fire her and things are 'only going to get worse' for educators

Wisconsin teacher Melissa Tempel wearing a rainbow face mask.
Wisconsin teacher Melissa Tempel says she'll be fired after criticizing her district's decision to block kids from singing "Rainbowland."Melissa Tempel
  • A Wisconsin teacher who criticized her school's decision to block kids from singing "Rainbowland" says she's going to be fired.

  • The district cut the song from a school concert because it was deemed too controversial, she said.

  • Melissa Tempel told Insider she thinks things are "only going to get worse" for teachers in America.

The Wisconsin first-grade teacher who criticized her district's decision to block students from performing "Rainbowland" by Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus at a school concert says the district's superintendent now wants her fired.

Waukesha School District teacher Melissa Tempel said she was preparing her students to sing "Rainbowland," a song about acceptance, when the school district axed it from the setlist in March because it was too controversial.


Tempel criticized the decision in media interviews and was put on leave by the district.

In a letter Tempel says she got on Monday and obtained by Insider, Superintendent James Sebert writes that Tempel was free to disagree with the decision but that she broke district policy by going public.

"The manner in which you chose to express your disagreement with the District's decision was inappropriate, disruptive, and in violation of various district policies," Sebert wrote in the letter.

He's now recommending that the school board fire her, according to a letter.

In an interview with Insider, Tempel says she had no hope of keeping her job now.

"I know the school board," she said. "They're the ones pushing this stuff the whole time, so I don't think there's any chance they're going to change their mind."

In statements to Insider, both Sebert and president of the school board Kelly Piacsek declined to comment on the letter, saying it was a "personnel matter."

Tempel alleged her students have been "floundering" at school while she's been gone as the district considered her case for weeks.

"They haven't had a teacher in over a month. It's been complete chaos in my classroom," Tempel said. The "kids don't know what's happening and they're all concerned and worried."

She added that she's gotten messages from parents saying their kids are "upset" and "crying" because they don't know where Tempel went.

Sebert and Piacsek also did not respond to questions about Tempel's allegations.

Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus.Vijat Mohindra/NBC via Getty Images

'Only going to get worse'

Without a job, Tempel says she'll lose health insurance for herself and her family. An online fundraiser set up to cover her health insurance and legal fees has raised more than $6,500 — with the organizer saying leftover money will go to an LGTBQ charity.

Tempel hopes her situation will help "the public understand what's really going on in schools ... not only in Waukesha but all over the country."

"If they're able to silence teachers or drive teachers out of districts ... where they're not feeling welcomed then we're creating these voids in education where pockets of people are never going to hear about diversity or acceptance for others," Tempel said.

She said the Waukesha School District's policies "really promote diversity and equity and learning about the world" — but that things have changed under a new school board.

"I feel like ... they're trying to slowly drive us crazy by making us feel crazy by saying that we've done things wrong when we haven't done anything wrong, when we are only doing what we know is right but they want us to doubt ourselves, and they want us to always second guess before we speak," Tempel said.

For now, she thinks the situation is "only going to get worse" for teachers.

Since Tempel was put on leave, a Republican state legislator representing her school's area proposed a new law that would let parents sue teachers over "obscene" books.

But Tempel said teachers should speak out since school boards "can't get rid of every teacher."

"They can't make us forget about how they're hurting kids because we're seeing it every day," she said.

Read the original article on Insider