A Boone County school teacher says she let students Thursday see and one student photograph her at school wearing a jacket saying “Tuck Frump,” with letters composing the f-word highlighted in white.
Cheryl Judy, who’s now receiving backlash online, said she only briefly revealed the anti-President Trump statement at school to about six to eight high school students.
“I really think people believe that I wore that patch all day long and all over the school and I didn’t, and I’m really sorry that all this has happened,” Judy said Monday.
Judy, the sole art teacher for Sherman Junior and Senior high schools, said the students were in her room doing artwork during her planning period, sometime between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m., when she used safety pins to attach the patch with the slogan to a jacket.
“I thought that was a good time to pin that on there while they were busy, so I hung it over the back of the chair where they couldn’t see it and I pinned the patch on,” Judy said.
But she said she then showed the jacket with the patch attached to the students in her room — not to flaunt it but to make sure the patch was straight and smooth on her back. She said she was planning to wear the jacket to that evening’s Boone school board meeting, which she did.
“Nothing was said about it at the board meeting, that it was inappropriate or anything,” Judy said.
She said her students who saw the patch were “like-minded.”
“We had discussed this kind of stuff before,” Judy said. “They were not offended by it. It doesn’t really have anything inappropriate on it unless you read it the wrong way.”
While she had the patch on during her planning period, she said a student asked to take a picture of it.
“Without me thinking I said ‘Sure,’ and she didn’t post it to be mean or anything,” Judy said. “She has apologized for it and she didn’t know that this is what would happen and she put it on Snapchat and then it just went everywhere. It exploded, it was unintentional on my part and on her part.”
Snapchat is a picture and message sharing application. Judy said she didn’t know the student would post the photo to social media.
Judy verified the authenticity of the picture now on local TV news, which shows her back with the statement on it.
The statement is also the lead photo on Judy’s Facebook page, visible even to those who aren’t friends with her on that social media website.
She said she’s been a West Virginia public school teacher for about 23 years, 13 or 14 of those in Boone. She said she’s also the secretary for the Boone branch of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the few officer positions for that county school employees union.
She’s also one of the two Boone public school employees who last month filed what they’re requesting be a class-action lawsuit alleging that their paycheck deductions didn’t properly go toward paying for requested supplemental retirement and supplemental insurance coverage. The Boone school board and Boone schools Superintendent Jeff Huffman are among those Judy is suing.
The Gazette-Mail asked Huffman whether an investigation is being done and whether any employment action has been taken against Judy or will be recommended to the school board regarding the patch. In an emailed response early Tuesday morning, Huffman said he hasn’t yet spoken with Judy and that “Any investigation which may be conducted would be directed from my office.”
“It would not be appropriate for me to make any additional statements at this time as this matter is a personnel matter and will be handled as per the provisions and/or requirements of law and policy,” Huffman wrote. “Including the requirement of handling such in a confidential manner.”
Public school board votes would be required for more serious forms of discipline, including suspensions exceeding 30 days and firings.
Judy said Boone schools are currently on spring break.
“I don’t try to push my ideas onto other people — my liberalism I don’t try to push onto other people, my religion, nothing,” Judy said. “And I do encourage my students to speak freely about their ideas and their beliefs without criticism in my classroom because that is a part of art, to be able to express that kind of stuff.
“I don’t want to lose my job. I want to teach my students, but if I have to, I have to. It’s just a shame that students are going to be losing someone they care about and really cares about them, each and every one of them.”
Judy said there wasn’t anything in particular that led her to wear that patch Thursday.
In November, a couple of Boone school board members said publicly that the victories of President Donald Trump, a Republican, and Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat who is similar to Trump and has played up his conversations with Trump, factored into their abrupt decision that month to cancel public hearings on proposed school closures in the financially challenged county.
Trump and Justice promised during their campaigns to revive the coal industry, despite significant evidence it won’t rebound to previous levels, especially in Southern West Virginia. Jeff Nelson, principal of the Boone Career and Technical Center, said he handed the board a petition signed by 127 employees, asking board members to at least hold the public hearings.
The board didn’t.
Reach Ryan Quinn at email@example.com, facebook.com/ryanedwinquinn, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.