Virginia Principal Placed on Leave for Distribution of Fetal Models to Students

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 24, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Principal Placed on Leave for Distribution of Fetal Models to Students

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 24
, 2010

Norfolk, VA ( — A Virginia principal was placed on administrative leave for distributing tiny plastic models of unborn children to help the students at Oakwood Elementary learn about the development of a baby before birth. Oakwood Principal Sheila Tillett Holas distributed the models to students in third, fourth and fifth grade.

Holas was placed on leave on Friday and, according to the Norfolk Pilot newspaper, would not respond to interview requests.

Also in response, the Virginia ACLU sent a letter to Superintendent Stephen Jones blasting Holas and saying Holas was also engaging in other activities that it said inappropriately promoted religion.

School division spokeswoman Elizabeth Thiel Mather told the newspaper, "The principal is on administrative leave because the superintendent felt it would be best for the school while the investigation is ongoing."

"It’s a serious incident, a serious allegation; you don’t want to let it linger," she said.

Mather did not know whether Holas or another school official was responsible for distributing the dolls, but told the newspaper students received them last Fall and that a parent reported her child getting a model within the last month.

Jones issued a memo to the city council on Friday promising a thorough examination of the situation.

"I will act quickly to bring the Oakwood incident to a resolution in consultation with the School Board," he stated. "Also, all Norfolk Public Schools instructional staff members will be reminded of the expectations following this situation."

The newspaper said a previous survey of teachers and staff found respondents "lauded Holas for being an effective leader and for treating them like professionals."

Jill Stanek, a pro-life nurse and blogger, responded to the story saying the outrage over children getting fetal models "is so ridiculous and beyond the pale."

She pointed out quotes from school board officials, such as School Board Chairman Stephen Tonelson, who said, "It is hard to imagine that we would have an employee who believes it would be appropriate to share plastic fetus dolls with students in one of our schools."

Board member Kirk Houston Sr added: "Very life like, and it’s a pro-life tool. To be quite honest, that is so incredible to me, that a staff member would do something so… entirely inappropriate and unacceptable. [Board members] were all pretty dumbfounded."

Stanek responded, "What’s the difference between this doll and any other baby doll? Yet here are incredibly obtuse quotes from school board members."

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