Altamont is not a homophobic town!

The hiring and subsequent declining of the contract for superintendent of schools of Altamont Unit 10 issued to Mr. David Martin has been widely discussed and opinions offered on social media, as well as WCIA-Champaign, WAND-Decatur and the Effingham Daily News, both as news reports and editorially.

By inference and innuendo in stories on the TV broadcasts and in the Feb. 19 EDN editorial and with no chance to challenge some of the allegations, Altamont has been portrayed as a “homophobic” town. (“Our View: Wishing David Martin the best … and that some in Altamont had treated him better,” Feb. 19, 2021.)

Altamont is not a homophobic town!

One known public meeting of concerned citizens was held on Feb. 18 after Mr. Martin had declined. The moderator opened the meeting by emphasizing, “Anyone who is here to discuss anyone’s sexual orientation should leave now as that topic will not be allowed!” No one left!

Being basically a Christian town, many of the concerned citizens couldn’t condone Mr. Martin’s lifestyle, but did not consider it a “job killer.” They instead were asking the Unit 10 board to follow the advice of the Illinois Association of School Boards in choosing the next candidate and selct a qualified person whose values reflect the values of the community.

The key word used re values was RESPECT.

In small midwestern towns like ours, the school superintendent often has the highest profile and largest salary of anyone in the district. Mr. Martin’s contract, alleged to be $109,000 plus benefits, likely would have been tops.

With the widely viewed video of Mr. Martin appearing on “The Jerry Springer Show” and in wrestling exhibitions, concerned citizens felt that it would have been impossible for him to rebuild respect so needed in interactions with taxpayers, parents and students.

A combination of counteless hours of sacrifice by current and past school board members, dedicated teachers, parents and students has earned the Altamont school system a reputation “one of the best in south-central Illinois.” Concerned citizens of UNit 10 want to maintain that status and join the EDN editorial board in wishing Mr. Martin “the best.”

Too, we will appreciate anything the EDN editors do to help us re-establish Altamont’s reputation of respect for all.

Carl Becker, Altamont

EDN’s editorial on Altamont superintendent search unfair

Thank you for tarring all of Altamont with the same brush. (“Our View: Wishing David Martin the best … and that some in Altamont had treated him better,” Feb. 19, 2021.) You assumed the only reason a small Illinois town could possibly object to, or be looking closely at, this school superintendent was homophobia. Shame on you!

Did you consider that the school board declined to renew the most recent Unit 10 superintendent’s contract? This was done with no explanation to the public.

Couple that with the Culturally Responsive and Leading Standards, how can you fault anyone in a community for paying attention to the direction of their education system or criticize them for looking up David Martin? And it is fair to say, what they found was a bit outlandish.

Teachers, as they are nearing graduation in college, are told to clean up or delete their social media accounts. They are told to “not be seen on Facebook holding a beer” because that could be grounds to not be hired or to be dismissed.

Does this standard only hold for teachers but not administrators? If this was a woman applying for a 1st grade teaching position who had spent time as a burlesque performer named Lucious Linda Longlegs, would her not being hired be an issue? Would you have noticed?

Four out of 5 Americans distrust the news. This is why! And no, you can not hide behind the “opinion” disclaimer. You are expected to provide “fair and unbiased” even in perspective.

Was what happened to Dr. Martin hasty and biased? Probably, but so was your opinion.

Tom Denton, Mason

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