Middleton High Fine Arts Week is Kind of a ‘Drag’ – Empower Wisconsin

Empowering Wisconsin | April 12, 2022

By MD Kittle

MADISON — Last week, Middleton High School’s fine arts week culminated with a song-and-dance performance by French teacher Matthew Kashdan — in drag.

Kashdan strutted onto the auditorium stage in a blue sequined high-cut dress, red boots and a blonde wig, lip-synching and dancing to pop divas Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me.” All of this came as a surprise to the students gathered.

The performance was captured on video and sent to conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna.

Kashdan’s act doesn’t sit well with parents who think public schools aren’t the place for drag queen party favors.

“I send my children to school and entrust them to teachers whom I must believe to be professionals who will not destroy their innocence for their own pleasure,” wrote a parent from Middleton-Cross Plains area schools. in an email alerting McKenna. “If MATTHEW KASHDAN makes the decision to put on his drag show at school, what else is he doing in his classroom with a room full of kids? What kind of educators thought it was appropriate? drag shows are ‘fine art’? If a teacher is a pole dancer or a stripper, can they also perform for my children?”

“I don’t care what MATTHEW KASHDAN does outside of school. I care about what he is doing at Middleton High School,” the parent added.

Shannon Valladolid, director of information and public relations for the district, said Fine Arts Week is an annual event at Middleton High School that allows students and staff to showcase their talents in music, art, dance and theatre.

“The week is full of performances that are appreciated by students and staff alike. Performances range from music to dance to martial arts, culinary arts, visual arts, language arts, and other arts that fit our expanded definition of the arts,” Valladolid wrote in a response by e-mail to questions from Empower Wisconsin.

She said parental permission to attend the events has never been required since the event was established many years ago.

Each year the week ends with a staff talent show “which has always been a very popular part of the week”. Valladolid said staff performance is monitored by MHS faculty.

As of Tuesday morning, the school had received a performance complaint from a parent, the district spokeswoman said.

“The school is reviewing protocols and processes going forward to ensure all perspectives are considered,” Valladolid said.

According to Kashdan’s LinkedIn page, the French teacher is “looking to move away from public K-12 education into higher education abroad programming and advising.” .

This isn’t the first time Middleton High School has made drag dress news.

In 2014, some students defied a request by school officials not to cross-dress on a senior dress-up day. The superintendent warned that cross-dressing, a tradition on dress-up day for years, could be hurtful to gay, lesbian and transgender students at the school.

The latest installment comes as the school district considers another referendum, including funding increases for teachers to deal with soaring inflation.

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