Anoka-Hennepin teacher, school board member to run for MN Senate

From MPR’s Tom Weber…

One of the first teachers in the Anoka-Hennepin school district to publicly criticize a controversial sexual orientation policy is running for Minnesota State Senate. Jefferson Fietek, of Anoka, also has been active in efforts to combat bullying, especially the bullying of LGBT students.

Fietek became an oft-quoted source for reporters over the past two years, as the district rose to national media attention in the wake of student suicides, which critics have partially blamed on the so-called ‘neutrality policy.’ That policy requires teachers to remain neutral if the subject of sexual orientation comes up in class; it has since become the subject of two federal lawsuits.

Supporters maintain the neutrality policy assures a ‘pro-homosexual agenda’ will not infiltrate district classrooms. Opponents say it’s a vague policy that creates a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. School board members will consider a replacement for that policy this month, though they say the lawsuits are not the reason for the replacement.

Jefferson Fietek teaches at Anoka Middle School for the Arts; he plans to run as a DFLer in District 49. The seat is currently held by first-term Republican Sen. Michelle Benson.

Another person with ties to the Anoka district also plans to run for senate, in a separate district. John Hoffman, the vice-chair of the Anoka-Hennepin school board, plans to run as a DFLer in the 47th district.

Hoffman, of Champlin, has created a campaign committee with the state campaign finance board. He says he plans a formal announcement soon, though he posted his first campaign video this week.

The District 47 seat is currently held by first-term Republican Benjamin Kruse, who unseated longtime DFLer Leo Foley in 2010.

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