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I am a concerned citizen and Michigan resident, as well as an elementary school teacher in our great state, so I have a heart for our children and schools. My heart, however, is torn and broken by some of the investigations regarding hate crimes that are occurring in (and out) of our schools.

I will admit that I believe in our country’s premise of “innocent until proven guilty.” However, some of these events have left no question that they are directed at specific demographics (specifically, race and religion). Incidents have occurred across our state — in DeWitt, Royal Oak and Ann Arbor, to name a few.

It appears that there is currently a crisis snowballing in our state. While I certainly cannot predict the future, I also know that past behavior is a relatively good predictor of future behavior. Sometimes things can be rerouted if there is appropriate education, and consequences, for behavior that I would deem wildly inappropriate at best, and hateful and illegal at worst.

Our state needs strong leadership right now. It needs a firm stance, and not just about how we ought to be treating each other; civil liberties are being violated.

As a teacher, I know that upsetting events such as the ones happening in our schools influence the safety (emotional, and sometimes physical) of all of our students.

I am beseeching Gov. Rick Snyder to task the Michigan Department of Education to work directly with school districts to make a plan for responding swiftly, and firmly, to this type of behavior. Perhaps a coalition of educators could work together to come up with fair and appropriate guidelines for every school district.

I am desperate to provide peace and safety for every single child attending school in Michigan.

Kimberly Ouellette, Lansing

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