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Michelle Rhee Letter
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12/6/07

Dear Ms. Rhee,

Hello. My name is Richard Urban. I am the co-founder and Executive Director of ULTRA Teen Choice, a youth empowerment program that guides youth toward the formation of two parent families and positive character development by emphasizing the benefits of abstinence from drugs, alcohol, and sex before a committed lifetime monogamous relationship, such as marriage. We serve schools, community based and faith based organizations.

The program provides HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy prevention education plus character development education. ULTRA Teen Choice peer counselors inform other youth at their school about why abstinence matters. College STAR Guide mentors who share a commitment to positive values help lead weekly or biweekly ULTRA Teen Choice Service Club meetings to support youth in their decision to make right choices.
The ULTRA Teen Choice (UTC) program has successfully operated at several District of Columbia public school since 2003. The UTC program has been reviewed twice and approved by the District of Columbia Public Schools HIV/AIDS office. Recently, our program was suddenly barred from operating at Stuart-Hobson Middle School after four successful years of operation there. The matter was referred by Principal Brandon Eatman to Dr. Richard Nyankori. Dr. Nyankori met on Friday, November 30 with 6 parents of students who are or have been ULTRA Teen Choice participants plus five students who are in the program. He said that he would give you a full report of the situation, and I assume that he has. I gave him a packet of letters that students wrote about how they benefit from the program, and I will be glad to give that to you if you have not seen it The parents spoke clearly about how their children benefit from the program, and our faculty advisor, Mr. Leonard Booker also attended the meeting and shared about how valuable the program has been for the students.

Ironically, I attended a follow-up meeting with Dr. Nyankori yesterday at 4:30 p.m. At the same time, you were meeting with one of our ULTRA Teen Choice students, Delonte Moore from Eastern Senior High School. What is ironic is that Dr. Nyankori and Chad Ferguson stated that you would not approve our program’s operating in DC public schools since I have expressed publicly that I do not support the appropriateness of including the discussion of several points in the proposed Health Standards that deal with gender identify and sexual orientation. If this is true, DeLonte Moore and other outstanding participants in the UTC program will no longer benefit from the program.

Dr. Nyankori said that although they hear that the work that we do is excellent, especially by having youth counsel their peers about the benefits of sexual abstinence, we will not be welcome in DC Public Schools. When asked for the specific reason, he only says that you will not approve of it because of my views about the inappropriateness of the topics just mentioned. Is that correct?

Your staff also stated that programs that meet Title V Federal Criteria for abstinence education programs will not necessarily be welcome in DC Public Schools. Is that correct, as well?

And they stated that even as a completely elective program (such as the ULTRA Teen Choice Service Club part of our program) we would not be welcome if we do not meet the above stated “litmus test”. Is that correct, too?

Could you please clarify if the above three points accurately reflect your position? If so, by what means will you judge whether each of the dozens of providers of programs offered to DC public students meet this “litmus test”. Are there any other criteria that you might use to disallow people from working in the DC Public Schools? How will you determine what people’s personal or organizational views are? Will there be some test? Who will make this determination. How will it be decided which views are acceptable, and which are not?

Which other organizations have been subjected to this seemingly discriminatory review? Will you also give a “litmus Test” to the Best Friends program, or Project Reality, or any other programs?

I also request that you meet with concerned parents and students who participate in our program.
Thank you for your attention.

You can find the details about this situation on our website at http://www.ultrateenchoice.org/c_SAVE_DC_Action_Page_629_English.htm.

You can see a video of youth in the program at http://www.ultrateenchoice.org/c_Videos_599_English.htm

Sincerely,
Richard Urban
Executive Director
ULTRA Teen Choice
www.ultrateenchoice.org

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