After what Omar Currie says was a “hostile” private meeting with Orange County Schools administrators, the embattled third-grade teacher plus a top administrator at Efland-Cheeks Elementary have resigned.
Currie and Assistant Principal Meg Goodhand stepped down nearly two months after the teacher read the children’s book King & King in the classroom, sparking an uproar that incensed a few local parents and galvanized LGBTQ advocates nationwide.
King & King tells the story of a fictional prince who defies pressure to choose a princess by marrying a man instead. The book closes with the two men sharing a kiss.
Goodhand, who declined to talk about her resignation, provided Currie with a copy of the book when he wanted to teach a lesson about anti-gay bullying in April.
“My reading of King & King was the 100 percent right thing to do,” Currie said Monday. “It’s obvious Orange County Schools is lacking leadership right now.”
After Currie, who is openly gay, read the book, a handful of parents accused him of forcing pro-gay rights opinions on their children. Several parents then filed three formal complaints, prompting a school committee at Efland-Cheeks to review the book twice. Each time, the committee decided to keep the book at Efland-Cheeks.
Goodhand and a number of LGBTQ advocates also defended Currie in a heated public meeting last month.
But this week, a district committee appointed by the system’s Interim Superintendent Pam Jones is expected to conduct its own review of King & King after parents continued to complain.
Currie said he chose to resign after administrators, in a private meeting more than a week ago, threatened him with disciplinary action and accused him of lying when he told the INDY last month that he feared a potentially career-damaging annual evaluation from his principal.
In that INDY story, Currie and other LGBTQ supporters criticized the school system and the Orange County Board of Education for failing to defend or support Currie.
“There was no way I was going to have the support I needed to continue teaching in Orange County,” Currie said.
Orange County Schools spokesman Seth Stephens confirmed the system had received both Goodhand and Currie’s resignations, which were effective Monday, June 15.
“The system certainly supports learning and teaching in the classroom,” Stephens said. “Also, our other staff members and administration know there are policies to be followed and they follow him there.”
However, Stephens said he does not know whether Currie violated any school policies when he read the book.
Currie said he is interviewing in other local school districts and hopes to work in Durham Public Schools.
Orange County Schools’ committee review of the book is open to the public. It is scheduled for Thursday, June 18, at 6 p.m., at Gravelly Hill Middle School in Efland.