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Windsor School principal on leave following social media post

 Tiffany Riley-File photo
Tiffany Riley-File photo (WCAX)
Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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The Windsor community is reacting to news the local principal has been placed on leave over what the district calls "ignorance and prejudice" in social media posts. Our Adam Sullivan reports.

The principal is currently on paid leave following comments she made online regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. It's an incident that is sparking debate over freedom of speech.

"Racism is everywhere including this state which prides itself on being a life live and let live state," said Sarah Kersey of Windsor.

An American flag remains painted into the hill outside the Windsor School. The K-12 campus is quiet but controversy swirls around the school after a social media post from its leader.

Principal Tiffany Riley recently wrote, "I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get to this point..."

She went on to write that she does not think people should be made to feel they have to choose the black race over the human race.

"While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all?" Riley wrote.

Kersey would like to better understand the context that led to the post but calls the comments uninformed.

"People are struggling to have the same rights as other people and you can't just say all lives matter; that's kind of blowing it off," she said. "To me, it's like walking past someone who is drowning and say all people can swim."

But others in the community feel Riley has the right to voice her opinions.

"If people don't like it then, oh well, that's how it is. Everybody has got their own opinion," Tim Morrill said.

I bumped into Morrill and his brother while they were painting a house around the corner from the school.

"It's not like she came into a classroom full of kids and started pushing religious or her beliefs about it," Morrill said.

We have made multiple attempts to contact Riley about her future employment at the school but have not heard back. The Mount Ascutney School Board put out a statement that ends with "we are resolved that she will no longer lead our school."

"The school is going to have a very heavy burden," said Jared Carter, a constitutional law professor at the Vermont Law School. "Fundamentally, the government cannot act in such a way that discriminates against individuals based on their viewpoint."

The superintendent declined an on-camera interview saying the district would not be commenting further until it has had the opportunity to speak directly to the principal. At this time, we do not know when that conversation will take place.