The superintendent of a Kansas high school is disputing claims made by independent Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman that his wife, a former teacher at the school, faced prejudice because she is a woman.
Orman, who emerged as a strong contender to Republican incumbent Pat Roberts in what is turning out to be the strangest senate race this cycle, made the claim last month in a speech to a group called Women 4 Kansas.
Orman, a 45-year-old businessman who has used a large amount of his own money to finance his campaign, spoke of the handicap women face in the workplace compared to men.
To drive home his point, Orman shared a story about his wife, Sybil, who, according to her Facebook page, taught Spanish at Turner High School in Kansas City between 2009 and 2013.
“I also witness my wife Sybil plan lessons for her classroom, organize school fundraisers, put on pep assemblies, sponsor school dances, and lead many other school functions, yet she experienced the same prejudice in her work as a teacher,” Orman told the audience.
“Sybil, who’s run more than 100 competitive athletic races in her life, apparently wasn’t competent to be the school sponsor of a 5-k race unless a male colleague co-sponsored it with her,” Orman said, eliciting loud groans and a few boos from attendees.
“All potential male colleagues were confused at the principal’s demand because they knew that Sybil could do it on her own.”
“These criticisms permeate our culture and are ultimately deflating and demoralizing for women, and even worse for our country,” continued Orman.
But school officials deny Orman’s claims and say that Sybil was treated just like any other staff member taking charge of a school function for the first time.
The Daily Caller reached out to Turner’s principal, Paul Colwell, for comment. He in turn forwarded the email to Turner school district superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard, who responded.
“As a female Superintendent for the Turner School District, I must say I’m a little surprised that anyone would suggest women are treated differently than men in our schools,” Hubbard told TheDC through email. “As an employee of the Turner School District for 23 years, I have never felt as though I was treated any differently than other employees regardless of my gender.”
“As for the 5K,” Hubbard continued, “in Turner we are very fortunate to have a dedicated track coach that has worked for the district for more than 25 years.”
“He is very knowledgeable about running cross county events, track meets, and also 5K events. Any time a new staff member is placed in charge of an event similar in nature, our experienced employee is paired with them to assist and ensure the event goes off flawlessly, while also serving as a mentor for new, inexperienced employees, regardless of their gender.”
The Orman campaign did not return TheDC’s request for comment.
Orman’s campaign has gained momentum throughout the summer, but his political star grew even brighter last week when Democratic nominee Chad Taylor announced that he was taking his name off the ballot. The results of a poll released Monday showed that Orman leads Roberts 37-36.
Orman’s strategy has been to paint himself as a centrist bent on appealing to voters tired of partisanship and political gridlock.
Roberts’ campaign strategy appears to be to characterize Orman as a liberal in an independent’s clothing. Roberts has cited Orman’s campaign contributions to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid, as well as his 2008 vote for Obama. With a strong chance that Republicans can take a majority in the Senate, Roberts hopes to communicate that a vote for Orman is a vote for Reid.