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SD122 psychologist resigns over Islamophobic posts

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By Nuha Abdessalam

A psychologist for Ridgeland School District 122 has resigned after hundreds of parents demanded she be fired for social media posts that were pro-Israeli and anti-Palestinian.

District Supt. Joseph Matise announced at a schoolboard meeting last week that Dr. Laurie Hoke had resigned.

“Dr. Hoke will no longer be working with students and families within the district,” Matise said at the meeting March 20 at Simmons Middle School in Oak Lawn.

The resignation came after a petition demanding her ouster received more than 1,500 signatures.

Not everyone in attendance was satisfied with the announcement.

“This is not done,” said one mother who asked to remain anonymous. “What about the conversation about the district’s need to implement cultural awareness for all of their educators?”

Parents took to the podium to ask what these new developments meant.

Sajaa, a mother of a student who has worked with Hoke on her child’s IEP case, asked the board how the district plans to rebuild trust between parents and IEP staff in the future.

A member of an ad hoc Parents Committee asked the board to explain what her resignation may mean. Has she provided an apology for cases she worked, she asked.

She asked what the district would do to ensure their children’s safety moving forward from prejudice, discrimination, and bias from staff?

“What do you plan to do with parents who do not speak English as a first language and struggle with understanding the IEP program,” Sajaa said. “What plans will the district take to solidify cultural sensitivity and awareness?”

Matise also addressed requests that IEP plans over the past 18 years be reviewed.

Matise said IEP plans use various tools and tests along with input and observations by several school staff members, including teachers, speech pathologists, and nurses.

“We do not think using taxpayer dollars to review 18 years of work is prudent now,” Matise said. “Instead, we will be re-reviewing IEPs for this school year and any IEP case upon request by a parent or guardian.”

Matise said that all questions by parents and guardians will be answered.

The next school board meeting will be on Wednesday, April 17, at the district’s office at Simmons Middle School.

2 Comments

  1. Sally Maali on March 28, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    Fabulous job writing this piece. This district has no room for hate, bigotry, or prejudices. Special Ed children are the most vulnerable and having someone as this school psychologist can be detrimental to children’s education. I’m glad the district took action to remove her!



  2. Denise Hodges on March 28, 2024 at 10:09 pm

    It would be helpful to know the content of the posts.
    I see a lot of name calling. I fear that a pro Israel comment is itself considered Islamophobic.
    There is hate everywhere. We should all look in the mirror to see if we are the haters.



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