Columbia Public Schools superintendent Brian Yearwood has apologized for his response to the controversy that erupted after grade school students attended a drag show at the Columbia Values Diversity breakfast last month.
The performance -- tame by most measures -- nonetheless went undisclosed on field trip permission slips sent to parents for signatures.
"For some, the city’s event demonstrated the importance of inclusion. For others, expectations were not met, specifically regarding the level of communication provided to parents," Yearwood wrote in a Feb. 1 letter. "Either way, it has created frustration for many. I want to apologize to parents and our community for that frustration."
Yearwood addressed not only the local, but statewide and even national levels the controversy reached.
"I recognize there continues to be strong feelings related to the performance at the breakfast and the
communication related to the performance," he wrote. "I also recognize those feelings extend beyond just our schools and our community.
Yearwood reassured parents who have felt marginalized by what they consider a long-term gap in school district transparency aided by school board measures to reduce public commentary.
"I also want to reiterate that Columbia Public Schools values the role the public plays in our decision-making process," he explained. "We believe that we benefit as a school community when our stakeholders are active participants. We continue to invite and encourage our students, staff, parents, and patrons to offer input. I have no doubt everyone wants the very best for our children."
Going forward, Yearwood promised to review "internal processes" with "input from parents," focusing on "ways to share information effectively, clearly, and fully with our students and families. This will include a review of our permission slip process."
He repeatedly emphasized his commitment to "putting our scholars first."
"As a district, we continually strive to meet the expectations of our parents and community," Yearwood concluded. "When we do not meet those expectations, I apologize."