A Wisconsin teacher who expressed frustration after her school district barred her first graders from singing “Rainbowland” was fired Wednesday.
Melissa Tempel tweeted in March that the administration had vetoed the choice for “Rainbowland,” a duet by Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton, which the officials deemed controversial under school policy, and added: “When will it end?”
The Waukesha School District Board of Education voted Wednesday to terminate Tempel, NBC affiliate WTMJ of Milwaukee reported.
She was placed on administrative leave after the superintendent determined the way she disagreed with the decision violated school board policies.
After the vote Wednesday, Tempel’s attorney said that they were disappointed with the decision but that they have what is necessary for a First Amendment lawsuit.
Tempel told reporters she wouldn’t have done anything differently even had she known the outcome. She thanked people for their support and kind messages.
“And I really just want to say ‘hi’ to my students, because I haven’t been able to talk to them since March, and I really miss you guys,” Tempel said.
Tempel tweeted in March: “My first graders were so excited to sing Rainbowland for our spring concert but it has been vetoed by our administration. When will it end?” She included lyrics from the 2017 song.
The song includes lyrics about working together and living in harmony: “’Cause I know if we try, we could really make a difference in this world” and “Living in a Rainbowland … Where we’re free to be exactly who we are / Let’s all dig down deep inside / Brush the judgment and fear aside.”
The Board of Education has said that when the song was suggested, the principal checked with the central office about district policies.
“They determined that the song could be deemed controversial in accordance with the policy,” the board said in a statement in March. The board said it wasn’t involved.
Tempel’s social media post prompted emails and phone calls to the district.
Superintendent James Sebert asked for an investigation. Sebert said he got “hundreds” of phone messages, as well as emails, after the post, some of them of a threatening nature.
“It was essentially all-encompassing,” he said. “The amount of negative attention that Ms. Tempel brought to the school district of Waukesha during that period was overwhelming.”
Tempel had been placed on administrative leave. Sebert said at Wednesday’s meeting that he felt the way Tempel disagreed with the decision “was in direct violation of multiple board policies.”
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.