Shawnee Mission administrator apologizes for comment about remote learning posted on social media

Michelle Hubbard acknowledged that her comments were "inappropriate" and said she would "do better" to ensure parents and students felt that their choices about how to receive instruction this fall would be valued.

A high level Shawnee Mission School District administrator is apologizing to parents for comments she made on a video posted to her daughter’s Snapchat account.

In the video, Associate Superintendent of Leadership and Learning Michelle Hubbard encourages her daughter’s friends to have their parents participate in an online survey about how instruction should be delivered this fall — either fully in person, partially in person, or fully remote.

“…Tell them what you want to do,” Hubbard says into the camera. “Go to school. Go to school part time. Or be remote — at home, stuck in your house. You decide.”

The video was initially distributed via Hubbard’s daughter’s social circles, but someone copied it and pushed it live on other social media platforms. A number of district parents were upset by the video and reached out to the district’s administration seeking an explanation.

In an email to one parent, Hubbard said she recognized that the comment “was inappropriate, and implied that I valued some parent options more than others.”

“As a parent in the district, I am in the same position with regard to the decisions I need to make for my own children,” Hubbard wrote. “I understand the stress that parents are under, and that my remark would make parents who are considering the remote option to feel devalued in their choice. That is not who I want to be, either as an individual or as an administrator in Shawnee Mission. I made a mistake that I regret, and I can and will do better.”

In a discussion with the Shawnee Mission Post on Friday, Hubbard said that the comments were made on the spur of the moment, and that they were intended for the small audience of her daughter’s immediate social circle on Snapchat. She noted that they were not made in her official capacity as a district administrator and that they were not distributed via any of the district’s communications channels.

Hubbard stressed that she and her team had been working since this spring to develop instruction models to allow students to learn both in person and remotely this coming fall.

“We are committed to every child, and recognize that parents will make the decision that is in the best interest of their child and their particular family circumstances,” Hubbard wrote to one parent. “Our job is to ensure that, regardless of the particular choice that a parent makes, their child receives an excellent education that supports them in reaching the Strategic Plan goals.”

Superintendent Mike Fulton issued the following statement on the issue:

Dr. Michelle Hubbard and fellow SMSD team members have been working tirelessly since the outbreak of the pandemic to address the learning needs of all students. A number of staff, including Dr. Hubbard, have worked non-stop since March to support remote learning this past spring, and prepare remote and in-class options for every child this coming school year. This work is being done to ensure the safety of students and staff and to meet the academic needs of every child. Dr. Hubbard has been leading the effort to design remote learning for students whose parents desire that option and for those students who are medically fragile and need, for their own safety, a remote learning option. Dr. Hubbard and SMSD team members are working hard to put SMSD in a position to support the academic success of every student whether remote or in-class. Dr. Hubbard’s leadership in these efforts has and will continue to be important to our collective efforts in SMSD to ensure the needs of students and staff are met.

We are in a pandemic. It is important that, as a community, we work through our differences together in healthy ways so that collectively we can do our very best for each and every student. SMSD will work within federal and state guidelines to promote the safety of staff, students and community while also ensuring students experience academic success whether remote or in person. The work in front of us is incredibly hard, and it will take all of us, working together, to be successful.