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Statement on Cobb County School Board Decision to Uphold Termination of Katherine Rinderle

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Today, the Cobb County School Board voted to uphold the recommendation of Superintendent Chris Ragsdale to terminate Katherine Rinderle, a longtime educator in the Cobb County School District and member of the Georgia Association of Educators. Lawyers for the Goodmark Law Firm and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are representing Rinderle in the case.

Rinderle was removed from her classroom in March after a parent complained that she had read My Shadow Is Purple by best-selling children’s book author Scott Stuart to her gifted fifth-grade students. Ragsdale claimed the book violated Georgia’s 2022 classroom censorship law banning so-called divisive concepts, mostly about race, even though legal advocates say the law is vague and contradicts the U.S. Constitution. 

“I am disappointed in the district’s decision to terminate me for reading an inclusive and affirming book — one that is representative of diverse student identities,” Rinderle said. “The district is sending a harmful message that not all students are worthy of affirmation in being their unapologetic and authentic selves. This decision, based on intentionally vague policies, will result in more teachers self-censoring in fear of not knowing where the invisible line will be drawn. Censorship perpetuates harm and students deserve better.”

There is no legitimate explanation for this termination,” said Attorney Craig Goodmark. “To fire a teacher under a law that no two people could agree on is wrong. Ms. Rinderle, like other Georgia educators, does not know where the lines are drawn when it comes to sensitive, controversial, or divisive concepts. After two days of trial, we still do not know.”

“We are disappointed in this decision, but not surprised,” said Mike Tafelski, senior supervising attorney for children’s rights at the SPLC. We knew this was a predetermined outcome dictated by Chris Ragsdale and the Cobb County Board of Education majority. They continue to prioritize discrimination, bigotry and retaliation in Cobb County Schools. And we will continue to hold them accountable for their unlawful conduct. This is not the end of this case. This is the beginning.” 

In 2022, the Georgia General Assembly passed a series of education bills to censor what students can learn in schools. They target discussions about race, particularly the country’s legacy of racism — an indisputable fact — and inclusivity for LGBTQ+ people.