November 2, 2012
Pro-Obama class trip scrapped for Ottawa high schoolers
By MICHAEL AUBRY and JESSICA BEDDAOUI, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Catholic parents rallied to cancel a high school trip to Ohio after some said it would have seen students going door to door in support of U.S. President Barack Obama.
A group of 52 local students from St. Peter's and St. Matthew's high schools had planned to head down to the important swing state in the days leading up to the U.S presidential election.
It was alleged that the students would be campaigning for Obama, which outraged some parents who say the Democratic leader eschews Catholic values because of his pro-abortion views.
Theresa Pierre, president of Parents as First Educators, said she had several calls from parents furious about the board's decision to allow the trip. Following complaints on Thursday, the trip was scrapped.
"Parents were complaining that students would be supporting a politician holding pro-abortion views," Pierre said.
According to reports, the trip was organized by civics teacher Scott Searle, who is listed as a volunteer for the Obama for America campaign.
The cancellation quickly sparked a firestorm on Twitter, with students taking to social media to defend Searle and the motivations behind the class excursion.
"We have a right to go on this trip! It's unfortunate that some people don't see that we were just trying to help. SPK for #teamsearle!" wrote Twitter user @Kelly_Sharkey on Thursday night.
"I feel bad for everyone's trip that's been ruined... if u don't support it, don't send your kids #thatsimple #teamsearle" wrote @_johannnaa.
Searle was not available for comment.
Pierre stands by her position on the trip.
"I think it's valuable to introduce children to the political process, but the choice of that kind of involvement has to be in line with church teachings," Pierre said.
Catholic school board spokeswoman Mardi de Kemp refused to comment, saying only the principal at St. Peter's, Norma Mcdonald, could comment on the class trip, even though she's the sole spokesperson for the board as a whole.
The trip was initially touted as a way for students to be introduced to the U.S. electoral process, but Pierre said any semblance of an unbiased trip soon vanished.
"The board says that there was active participation in the campaign and initial reports that that wasn't the case must have been reconsidered by the board," she said. "It sounds like the teacher (Searle) should have chosen a different way of exposing his students to the electoral process."