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School district officials and some in the public called the TikTok video offensive

A pair of Newberg middle school employees are under scrutiny this week after an alarming video emerged on the social media site TikTok.

"(On March 10) the district became aware of a highly offensive video made by two employees," the Newberg School District said in a prepared statement. "The employees were placed on administrative leave and the district immediately launched an investigation using a third-party investigator."

District Communications Manager Gregg Koskela said Monday, March 14, that the Willamette Education Service District, which has assumed some duties in the district after the departure of several key administrators, is making the arrangements for the third-party investigator.Mountain View Middle School guidance counselors Annie Bynum and Erin Dobias were placed on administrative leave after a TikTok video was posted last week.

The district has so far refrained from naming the two counselors, but numerous media outlets have identified them as Annie Bynum and Erin Dobias, guidance counselors at Mountain View Middle School.

The TikTok video depicts the pair dancing into the frame to a rap song before a Gay Pride flag, flipping off the viewers and lip syncing the song's lyrics "F…k you." The video was posted on one of the pair's TikTok accounts, crazybulldogs333, a private site that often displays messages meant to engage and entertain their middle school students.

The video was apparently directed at a parent or school patron who posted an objection to the sign being erected in the classroom: "I don't believe that sign should be allowed in the school."

The sign bears the message, "We believe Black lives matter, love is love, feminism is for everyone, no human being is illegal, science is real. Be kind to all."

The flag is in violation of a controversial resolution passed by the Newberg School Board last year banning BLM and Pride symbols in classrooms. The resolution was amended later to forbid all so-called political symbols in Newberg schools. The ban has resulted in nationwide attention, lawsuits and the unsuccessful attempts to recall the board's chairman and vice-chairman, Dave Brown and Brian Shannon.

As part of the ban on political symbols, the school board adopted a process by which complaints would begin at the classroom level and advance upward through the school principal to the school superintendent and eventually to the school board itself. The complaint against the sign at CMVS has not made its way through the process.

"The district is taking this situation very seriously and we will follow our policies and procedures as we complete our investigation into this matter," the district said.

The potential outcome of the investigation cannot be shared by the district, officials said, as it is a personnel matter.

"I am not able to comment on potential consequences," Koskela said.

The release of the video drew immediate outrage in the community, primarily on the Facebook page of Save Our Schools, one of the primary supporters of the four conservative members of the school board who shepherded the ban on political signs in classrooms.

"This behavior is very disturbing," wrote Amy Kinkead. "It's not inclusive, it's hateful!"

"Wow! These are counselors in our schools," commented Jennifer Parrish Sahli. "This is so unacceptable."

Others defended the pair's actions in the video.

"OMG, I love this so much!" said Laure Beare. "So many teachers and support staff standing up for human rights. Way to go Newberg! Save your schools from the fascists."

"I work with these counselors. They are dedicated, compassionate, fun and engaged in everything that is happening on a daily basis here as MVMS. The TikTok you're all commenting about was made in response to a viewer who slammed them on the use of the sign you see in the background. This was not intended against our school board, our students or our parents at all. …," Vicki Klein said. "Please give them grace on this … let's focus on the good things they've done and scroll past all the comments questioning their integrity. I assure they are very good humans."

School district officials didn't necessarily see it that way.

"Language, gestures and tone such as what was on display in the video are unprofessional and highly offensive," the district said in its statement. "Regardless of personal views, our expectation is for our employees to maintain respectful and professional communication at all times while representing the district and our community. The use of school property, even if outside of school hours, should not be used for personal expression of the type seen in the video."

The district added that it is working toward "creating a safe and welcoming environment in our schools that is free from bullying and reduced mental, emotional and physical harm. Actions like these work against that goal and we acknowledge the harm caused by this kind of behavior."

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