MONTE VISTA — About 200 people attended a Sargent School Board meeting on Feb. 28 to voice their concerns about a teacher being investigated for allegedly incorporating their religious beliefs into the curriculum.
The number of people was too large for the normal meeting room and was moved to the school district’s auditorium.
In a Feb. 9 meeting, information about the Sargent School Board looking into a complaint against a Sargent teacher was provided. The teacher’s name was not released, but many parents at the Feb. 28 meeting spoke publicly about the complaint. The school board received direction from its legal counsel in a closed session at the February meeting and decided to use an investigator to look into the complaint and made that announcement in open session at the same meeting.
One parent said they could not believe that the school system would allow a Board member to act in such a manner and he felt that if one teacher’s religious beliefs were not allowed in the school system, why were critical race theory and other topics that were frowned upon being allowed in the school systems and taught to children under a curriculum header.
Another parent who moved from out of state to have their children attend Sargent Schools said their reason for moving was so that the topics that were being taught in the bigger school systems would not be in the smaller school systems. The parent said they were appalled that a teacher would be sued for trying to bring their beliefs into her classroom when so many other negative issues were being allowed in the classroom today.
Another parent said that the school district should stand up for religious beliefs because they felt it was wrong to try to tell students that they could not pray in their classrooms. The parent also asked where their freedoms had gone and said, “So many of our rights are being taken away in the school systems, it is really unfair.”
None of the parents that spoke provided any tangible evidence to back up their viewpoints.
In another matter, Trish Slater presented the School Board with a resolution regarding critical race theory and other race-based programs. Sargent does not have a critical race theory curriculum.
“Children should be free to think from their own viewpoints, not taught to think from a racial standpoint,” Slater said.
Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.
The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others.
Critical race theory (CRT) is a tool primarily used in higher-level university and graduate courses.
Despite K-12 schools not having a critical race theory curriculum, the issue has become a flashpoint in the public arena.
Opponents fear that CRT admonishes all white people for being oppressors while classifying all Black people as hopelessly oppressed victims. These fears have spurred school boards and state legislatures from Tennessee to Idaho to ban teachings about racism in classrooms.
“Schools that use this curriculum are teaching their children that it is OK to think this way,” Slater said of the CRT curriculum. “I am hoping that this resolution will be considered and passed, and I have already received many signatures from people in the community who agree with me on the resolution. The safety of the children is what is most important. Children do not learn hate on their own, they are taught, and schools should not be allowed to teach this.”
Slater is working on a way to make it possible for community members to sign her resolution online.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was corrected to clarify that a complaint was filed against the teacher and that the school board is using an investigator to look into the matter.