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Will Forest Hills school board ban critical race theory, anti-racism? | #Education

The Forest Hills school board will vote Wednesday evening on a resolution that would ban critical race theory, intersectionality, identity and anti-racism curriculum from student instruction, staff training and hiring practices.

If it passes, teachers will not be allowed to give assignments that nudge students to consider their race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual preference, ethnicity, or culture as derogatory, to force kids to “admit privilege of oppression,” or to reflect, deconstruct or confront their identities. 

For subscribers: Are schools indoctrinating kids on sex, gender, diversity? Protect Ohio Children says yes

Critical rate theory is a college-level legal theory but critics believe it has influenced K-12 curriculum and policies around race, diversity and equity in Ohio’s K-12 schools

Administrators at Forest Hills, including outgoing superintendent Scot Prebles, have repeatedly said the theory is not included in the district’s curriculum. Prebles will leave the district next month to be superintendent of Bay Village City Schools near Cleveland, and Forest Hills’ board of education plans to hire a new school leader this month after announcing five finalists.

Forest Hills serves about 7,000 students in Anderson Township, a suburb of Cincinnati. About 87% of the district’s students are white, according to state data.

The resolution, entitled “Resolution to create a culture of kindness and equal opportunity for all students and staff,” was added last-minute to the board’s meeting agenda by member Sara Jonas and board president Linda Hausfeld. The full resolution can be found at the end of this story, or by clicking here.

This proposal comes one month after board member Leslie Rasmussen filed a formal bullying and harassment complaint against Hausfeld for describing those against racism as “charlatans” and “academic elitists.” 

“I am a Hispanic woman and colleague who was exposed to her rhetoric while on the job,” Rasmussen wrote in her complaint to the human resources department. She requested it be investigated by an independent compliance officer. “Her targeted comments hindered me from performing my Board of Education duties by creating an environment with hateful rhetoric aimed at people of color who stand against racism and who are educators. Her behavior is not spirited debate between board members; it was racially offensive and used name calling.”

Four of the five current board members were elected in November on platforms opposing critical race theory and advocating parental choice. Hausfeld, Sara Jonas and Bob Bibb have since raised concerns about diversity initiatives and indoctrination at Forest Hills schools. 

Last month, the board voted to ban the annual Diversity Day from occurring on district property or with district resources. The event was ultimately canceled, sparking protests from students, staff and families.

More: Turpin Diversity Day decision ‘unlawful’? Suit filed against Forest Hills school board

One student, now-graduated Claire Mengel, spoke about the event’s cancellation at a hearing in Washington, D.C. in mid-May.

Mengel said in testimony that the school board’s anti-critical race theory rhetoric is “causing immeasurable stress” on students and staff.

“Most critically, students of color are being told by the highest authority in their district that their stories don’t deserve to take up school time, school grounds or school resources,” Mengel said at the nation’s capital.

Proposal to ban teachers from endorsing critical race theory, anti-racism

The proposed resolution would declare the board’s “official opposition to the use of race-based and/or identity-based training, curricula, and methodology in public education.”

The proposal cites two existing Forest Hills policies. The nondiscrimination and equal employment opportunity policy states the district’s programs, activities and hiring practices should not include discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, religion, military status, ancestry, genetic information or any other “legally protected category.”

The controversial issues policy states topics that are debated in society or “may arouse strong emotions” may be part of class discussions “only when they are germane to the subject being taught” and after consideration of student age and maturity.

“No individual may impose personal views on the students, and a balance must be maintained through the presentation of all sides of an issue,” the existing policy states.

The new proposed policy builds on these concepts and includes the following guidelines:

  • History classes regarding racism and inequality in America “should not purport to deliberately undermine race groups, student/family values, religious beliefs, or founding principles.”
  • Teachers cannot endorse on behalf of a specific perspective on any areas of faith, civil rights, economics, international affairs, sociology or politics.
  • There is no advocating of critical race theory, anti-racism and “all related euphemistic surrogates” in the district’s curricula or staff training.
  • Teachers must provide a “comprehensive education on America’s history that neither sanitized its past, nor denies the possibility of moral progress.”
  • The district will partner with parents to ensure students are taught America is founded on the premise of equality.

The district “will embrace and implement a culture of kindness and equal opportunity for all students and staff,” the resolution reads. 

The Forest Hills board of education will meet Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Nagel Middle School, located at 1500 Nagel Road. The meeting will also be streamed online.

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