Political Activism Trumps H.S. Basketball Trip
Political Activism Trumps H.S. Basketball Trip
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   05.12.10

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Another boneheaded and politically motivated decision by District 113 — the district for which I worked for a decade — has landed the Deerfield and Highland Parkcommunities in the news — yet again. It seems that ever since George Fornero assumed leadership, District 113 can’t stay out of the news. For those aware of the controversies he left in his wake in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this should come as no surprise.*

George Fornero and others he is reluctant to name have decided to cancel the Highland Park High School girls’ varsity basketball team’s tournament trip to Arizona citing the Arizona immigration law as the reason.

If this refusal to attend the basketball tournament is an expression of opposition to the Arizona immigration law, then the District has formally and inappropriately aligned itself with a political position. Do the administration and school board have the right to act in such a presumptuous way? Do they have the right to speak for the entire taxpaying community on a divisive political issue?

Clearly, they think they do.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Assistant Superintendent Sue Hebson says that the trip “would not be aligned with our beliefs and values.” To which values is the administration referring? Specifically which District 113 value is violated by the Arizona immigration law which simply reiterates federal law that the federal government has inexcusably failed to enforce? Is the administration referring to the District 113 policy on the importance of obeying laws? Oh wait, I don’t think the district articulates such a “value.”

If, on the other hand, this is a pragmatic decision based on real concerns about student safety, then there are two considerations:

  • If all the basketball players are legal citizens, which it’s reported they are, then the administration has nothing to worry about. Furthermore, if all the players are legal citizens, then it’s clear that the administration’s decision is purely political.
  • If, however, one or more of the players are illegal immigrants, then the administration is tacitly admitting that they are willing to be complicit in the commission of crimes by aiding and abetting illegal immigration. If George Fornero made this feckless decision based on worries that a team member is illegal, then he is more invested in law-breaking than law-keeping. He is more concerned about a hypothetical illegal alien than he is about the many students who are legal citizens and who are being deprived of this rare opportunity.

According to Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform,

Under the law, Arizonapolice are prohibited from racially profiling or stopping anybody merely because of appearance or ethnicity. They may inquire about immigration status only if there is justification for the stop under the Constitution – such as investigating a possible crime – and there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is in the U.S.illegally.

And what is reasonable suspicion? Reasonable suspicion might include the lack of any sort of valid U.S. identification documents that police officers routinely request from anyone who is lawfully stopped.

The law expressly states that race, color or ethnicity does not constitute reasonable suspicion of illegal presence in theU.S. In reality, SB 1070 does nothing more than require police inArizona to protect the citizenry and uphold responsibilities abrogated by the federal government.

In light of this reality, is George Fornero actually trying to make the case that a hypothetical future illegal student may be at significant enough risk of harm or loss of liberty (Fornero’s word in an all staff email) to justify canceling the trip for the entire team which is composed of actual legal citizens?

Superintendent George Fornero cryptically told the Tribune that the decision to cancel the trip “wasn’t just my decision.” Someone needs to ask him specifically who else supported his decision because Dr. Fornero has a habit of misleading the public about how much support his decisions have within the administration.

Two years ago, he made another executive blunder by allowing an egregiously obscene and profane play to be taught, telling the public that “the administration stands behind the decision” to teach Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Since I knew administrators who did not stand behind this decision, I asked him to whom specifically was he referring. Lo and behold, it turned out to be two — just two — other administrators. I then asked if in the discussions leading up to the decision, either of the two administrators had ever expressed disapproval of the teaching of the play. Dr. Fornero refused to answer.

George Fornero and a small cadre of “progressive” activists have repeatedly exploited their positions, power, autonomy, public ignorance, and access to public money to advance their personal political and moral views. From his hiring of controversial racialist consultant Glenn Singleton (for more on Singleton, click HERE and HERE) to his controversial decision regarding Angels in America to his unprofessional emails and now his decision to cancel a trip for which students have been fundraising and to which they have been looking forward, Dr. Fornero has proven that his political and moral views reign supreme.

*George Fornero was acting superintendent of Pioneer High School when a lawsuit was filed against the district. The Court found that the district had “violated Plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech and further violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Court further finds that by their actions, Defendants denied Betsy Hansen her constitutional right to equal protection.” Click HERE for more information on this case.

Click HERE and HERE for yet more on George Fornero’s Ann Arbor tenure.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins was the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008 through early 2023. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years...
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