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Petition circulating online to ‘protect our children’

Social media comments prompt action

— A week-old online petition seems to be gaining support in its effort to protect children.

Resident Marissa Reyes started the petition last week and has garnered support from 86 others.

In her petition, Reyes writes:

“We the concerned citizens, parents and students of Prosser and surrounding communities ask the Prosser School Board of Education to create and implement a social media policy that promotes accountability and professionalism while ensuring a safe learning environment for all.”

The petition is in response to comments made in February about illegal aliens and the so-called Day Without Immigrants.

Prosser Heights Library Assistant Peggy Brown and Keene-Riverview Elementary School teacher Cheriese Rhode both posted anti-illegal alien comments on their personal social media pages at the time.

Both were put on paid administrative leave by Superintendent Ray Tolcacher, but Rhode has since returned to the classroom.

About 60 area businesses from Prosser to Granger, including major grocer Fiesta Foods, shut their doors for the “Day Without Immigrants” protest. And many Hispanic families kept their children home from school.

The protest was in response to President Donald J. Trump’s stepped up deportation policies targeting illegal immigrants and his pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to curtail crossings.

In her comments, Brown said life was easier in Prosser with few illegal immigrants in town and in schools.

“Lots of grade school kids stayed home today for the immigrants protest. I loved it,” she wrote. “Sure alleviated the overcrowding at school. No out of control kids, like it should be.

“I hope they can do it again soon.”

Rhode posted:

“This is a great idea, narrows the search down,” Rhode said in reference to federal authorities trying to locate those who are not in the United States legally.

She also posted the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement phone number, 866-347-2423, to report illegal aliens.

But those who signed Reyes’ petition see things differently.

“My children may eventually go into Prosser school system and I would like (to) have a piece of mind knowing they won’t be taught by racist bigots,” Leticia Galvan of Grandview wrote in support of the petition.

“It saddens me that the school district is not doing more within this situation,” petition signer Kaylee Main of Prosser wrote. “Very disappointed in allowing such hate being displayed within the school district and creating an unsafe environment...”

Prosser resident Brooke Norman said she may not send her children to school if the librarian isn’t fired.

“Her Facebook is horrible and I have only heard horrible things about her from students there and by other Prosser friends,” she wrote.

She also referenced Brown’s husband, school bus Dale Brown, whose personal vehicle carries anti-Muslim and anti-gay billboards around town.

The petition is online at www.change.org/p/prosser-school-board-protect-our-children/c?source_location=petition_show

On social media, however, Brown and her husband have received support, too.

“This is not Communist China, we have free speech here,” Ken Delbridge wrote.

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