(This post has been updated to include a communication from the Newton superintendent and a subsequent communication from the Newton North principal.)
Henry Turner, principal at Newton North High School, has strong opinions about the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, though there is reason to believe that he does not know the details of the case and did not follow the trial. In a series of emails he sent to staff starting on Friday, November 19, he states the acquittal is “racism” and that if Rittenhouse were black, he would have been found guilty. He promises racially segregated groups for students and staff to process the jury’s decision.
He also posted the text of his email on Facebook, Twitter and his personal blog, at HenryJTurner.com.
Principal Turner also states in his message to staff, “there is a long history of acquittals such as this when white people get off for murdering black people. To ignore racism in these situations just empowers racism.” Does Turner not realize that the people Rittenhouse killed were white? Did he watch the video footage of what happened that night? Did he listen to the sworn testimony of witnesses, including one of the people Rittenhouse shot?
It is not surprising that so many parents and even staff members sent copies of Turner’s emails to Parents Defending Education. As one parent put it, “he is using his authority as principal to peddle propaganda and lies to our kids. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Another parent wrote that “this guy is infantilizing students, teaching them to be fragile and ignorant.”
Turner is not shy about his world view or how he sees his role as a high school administrator. But his comments on high-profile events reveal an alarming level of ignorance and a belief that is his job to push his ill-informed opinions on staff which then makes its way to the 2,100 students in his school.
The superintendent, David Fleishman, also addressed the concerns around Henry Turner’s post-verdict emails to the Newton North faculty. He sent the following email on December 3, 2021 to families with children at Newton North High School to let them know that “Henry’s communication with the Newton North staff, as well as his social media messages, were consistent with the work we have taken on as a district and were reflective of his personal and professional experience.”
On December 4th, Principal Turner sent the following to staff, doubling down on his assertion that the Rittenhouse verdict is “a matter of race” and that those who disagree are wrong.