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Tale of Two Recommendations: Valentine “Completely” Supports Staging of Mockingbird

| November 15, 2010

You can sleep a little easier now.

Flagler County School Superintendent Janet Valentine late Monday afternoon removed all doubts that she would be fully supportive of a student production of To Kill a Mockingbird, after drawing criticism last month for endorsing a decision to scrap it from the Flagler Palm Coast High School Drama Club’s schedule.

“Would I completely support it? If all the pieces are in place, yes,” Valentine said. “In hindsight, I wish we had discussed the postponement of it, not the cancellation, because no one intended this to be viewed as censorship.”

Earlier in the day, an appeals committee convened by Valentine heard the case of the play. There was confusion regarding its final recommendation. There were, in fact, two versions of that recommendation.

The recommendation Diane Dyer, the chairperson of the committee, read immediately after the meeting, held at Matanzas High School at 9:30 this morning, was this: β€œTo Kill a Mockingbird is appropriate instructional material for use by high school students.” Dyer said there would also be a note appended to the recommendation: β€œThe committee further suggests that the district develop a policy and a procedure to cover student productions, because policy 414 does not cover that.”

That recommendation was confusing to at least two members of the committee, and to Board Member Colleen Conklin (who triggered the appeal, but was not a member of the committee) who were left under the impression that the recommendation did not directly address the play’s performance.

The recommendation Valentine and Conklin were endorsing late Monday afternoon was different. Here’s how it read, as printed on school district letterhead and presented by Valentine: “The committee’s recommendation is that the play To Kill a Mockingbird is appropriate material for use by high school students. The committee suggests that the district develop policy and procedure for school productions.”

That recommendation clearly endorses the production of the play, and would appear to recommend reversal of the decision to scrap it last month.

Valentine said the difference between the two recommendations was a matter of semantics. Conklin agreed. The committee’s focus on the play as instructional material was in itself an assumption that that material could be used by students anywhere, even on stage.

Going further, Valentine said she could have done better in conveying the decision to cancel the play with clearer reasoning–and, in retrospect, with postponement rather than cancellation in mind. Conklin said that earlier this morning, even Flagler Palm Coast High School’s principal, Jacob Oliva, in a statement to the committee, was openly embracing the play and inviting the community to be part of the event, when it’s put on–under the right circumstances. Conklin said that that approach alone settled the matter in her mind, since it made clear that the intention to stage the play is still on the table.

Valentine wouldn’t say when the play would be staged, stressing that she didn’t herself want to be dictating when the play would be staged. That would be up to the school. So whether the play can, in fact, be staged later this year may still be in question.

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16 Responses for “Tale of Two Recommendations: Valentine “Completely” Supports Staging of Mockingbird

  1. Ed Koczergo says:

    Ms. Valentine, Mr. Oliva, Ms. Conklin, Ms. Dyer, and all members of the of the school board, the committee of November 15, the committee of October 21, the community, and, most importantly, the student body of Flagler Palm Coast High School:

    Give me three weeks and my cast and I (along with the greatest Tech Staff in the world) will present the play TO KILL a MOCKINGBIRD in the Flagler Auditorium. The talk-back sessions will be an education unto themselves. If you’re reading this Mr. Guines, I would be honored if you would moderate these sessions.

  2. jason cazella says:

    well its gonna b very very interesting on how we are going to do this but i cant wait i know the cast and crew are looking foward to it :)

  3. MonkeyMom says:

    I’ll be there!!!!

  4. Eddie Green says:

    I have total faith in the cast and crew of Mockingbird that we can pull it off successfully in 3 weeks. LET THE SHOW BEGIN!

  5. Jim Guines says:

    Mr. Koczergo, I would be honored to fulfill your request if you can move your schedule back until after my winter vacation which ends December 12th. We will be out of the country until then.

  6. Ed Koczergo says:

    Mr. Guines, we won’t hit the stage until the week of the 13th. Enjoy your vacation! What’s your destination?

  7. Jim Guines says:


  8. Ed Koczergo says:

    Nice! In 2007, I did Tuscany. In 2008, I did Puerto Vallarta. In 2009, I did Provence. And, last June, I did the Amalfi Coast. In June 2011 (assuming I survive this school year) I’m off to Switzerland and Northern Italy. We must meet very soon…and thank you for not silencing your voice!

  9. Judy says:

    This is ridiculously wonderful. I’m very relieved for Mr. Koczergo and most importantly for the students. I cannot wait to see the show!

  10. Shawn-Michael Manniel says:

    Well, if To Kill A Mockingbird does comes back from the grave,
    I know for a fact that all of the cast and crew will be astonishing the audiance with entertainment and joy.

  11. Torianna Harpster says:

    I am very excited for the show if it shall go on i was looking forward to the show at the start and i know that the cast, and crew are goin to enjoy putting this show on I know for a fact we can do it. Cause if we can learn and put on a show in three weeks like we did then i know we will be able to do this. We have a great director (Mr. Koczergo) and a great tech crew and cast i know if we put are minds to it we can do it!

  12. John Kearney says:

    I must say this is an interesting article really shaking things up a bit I see…let us 3 weeks and we will blow your mind.

  13. Lisa Gardella says:

    Well done! I am confident this cast has what it takes to pull this together in three weeks. As a parent of one of the castmembers, this has been a great exercise in being able to stop midstream, rehearse and learn an entirely new play and put on the amazing show last weekend, and then pull together to complete what they started with the original dramatic piece!

    And kudos to Mr. K, who was able to take a cast, who was picked for dramatic roles and fit them into the comedic roles of last weekend! You would never know that you did that as they were all perfect! Too bad the kids didn’t get the audience they deserved this past weekend. I pray that Mockingbird will fill the auditorium each performance.

  14. JIM GUINES says:

    Has any decision come down, yet??

  15. Judy Vanderoef says:

    I was wondering about this also. I emailed a school board member on November 17 just to state my belief that the “show must go on”. But I haven’t heard anything.

  16. JIM GUINES says:

    Someone must know what is going on as I asked the principal and the director to keep me posted. I am writing this from out of the country.

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