Grapevine-Colleyville School Board considers teaching running
A disagreement erupted in public Monday night at a meeting of the Board of Education in the Colleyville-Grapevine School District during a discussion of a draft policy that guides teaching about race and bans lessons suggesting that racism underlies the founding principles of the country.
Among the divisive elements were an uncomfortable exchange between board directors focused on the names of the people who prepared the policy, a dispute over the circumstances in which the board chair should reprimand meeting observers for outbursts and debate. on how and when the board should consider district protocol on the curriculum and materials that its teachers share with students.
Administrator Becky St. John, who seemed to have reservations about some parts of the policy, tried to get another administrator, Casey Ford, to list its authors. Ford and trustee Shannon Braun requested that an initial review of the policy be added to the meeting agenda.
Ford said he and several community members contributed to the document, known as the Classic Social and Emotional Learning Policy.
“So what parts did you write? Saint-Jean asked.
“I don’t remember,” Ford said.
Ford said the ad hoc committee sessions, rather than the board meeting, were the best forum to review policy details and language.
“I’m not taking questions anymore,” said Ford, who was seated next to St. John in an arrangement that added to the tension.
Beyond issues of racism, the policy also requires the board to regularly review district books and other media that contain references to sex.
The administrators’ unrest grew during the meeting in which there were also public squabbles over the timely return of a colleague’s phone call and the number of hours that elapsed between the distribution of board documents and the meeting.
A committee of three trustees, Ford, St. John and Coley Canter, and a district administrative employee and his legal counsel will refine the policy. The board can review it and vote on it at another meeting, perhaps in May or June.
Ford and Braun proposed the policy which they say was developed to address the concerns of District residents who believe the District should move away from critical race theory and books containing what they consider to be inappropriate references to gender. Several parents or grandparents said they expect the district to provide a mainstream education with a primary focus on reading and math.
The draft policy states that the district “will not indicate that race or gender is inherently superior to another race or gender.” [or that] an individual, because of their race or gender, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, consciously or unconsciously.
During a public comment period, 41 people each spoke from a podium for one minute. Twenty-five supported the draft policy, 10 opposed it and six people did not express a clear opinion.
Board chairman Jorge Rodriguez said classroom discussions about racism were key to curbing it.
“Talking about racism is not CRT, you know. That’s not what CRT is,” he said. “Racism is part of our history, you know. Unfortunately, and I can tell you as a brown man in Texas, it’s also part of our present.
Stetson Clark, a parent of elementary-aged children, said he learned about the district’s instructions while working from home during the coronavirus pandemic and heard his daughter’s virtual classroom unfold. on his iPad.
“That’s when I started noticing the time she wasn’t [spending] learn academically rigorous things,” Clark said.
Instead, he said, students discussed their emotions and reviewed quotes from performer Lady Gaga.
Another parent, Michael Quinn, suggested that the Bible’s Old Testament contains sexual themes and that it might be banned under the policy.
“Let me explain what porn is. It is designed to arouse. It relates to lustful interest. These are not award-winning literature books that might include difficult themes,” he said said “I’m sick of these three-letter acronyms. This is becoming a tired playbook. CRT, SEL. Now we have PPM. I’m afraid our district will become SOL if we continue down this path.”
The district sought an opinion on the draft policy from its attorney. The assessment has not been made public.
A former district superintendent, James Whitfield, who ran Colleyville Heritage High School, left in November. Controversy erupted when Whitfield, who is black, was accused of hosting CRT. District administrators voted 7-0 to approve a settlement under which Whitfield must be on paid administrative leave until his resignation takes effect August 15, 2023.
Whitfield wrote in a Facebook post that he had been the victim of racial attacks for several months and noted criticism after writing about the death of George Floyd and his support for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Whitfield said school district officials used his race as a basis for refusing to renew his contract. School officials said a non-renewal notice related to Whitfield’s lack of communication, email communications with a party outside the district, and accusations of hiding electronic public records by deleting them.
This story was originally published April 26, 2022 5:19 p.m.