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Residents share concerns about critical race theory during tense school board meeting

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 6:15 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 8:15 AM EDT
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POWHATAN, Va. (WWBT) - A tense Powhatan school board meeting lasted hours longer than expected as dozens of speakers shared their concerns that critical race theory would be taught in schools.

The school board was scheduled to discuss a full agenda of topics including the treatment of its transgender students concerning the legal requirement with providing restroom and locker room access, but those discussions were quickly put on hold during the public comment.

Many people who spoke feared that the school board was going to include critical race theory as part of its curriculum, something some said would only further drive the community apart.

“The schools should teach truth and history racism and discrimination are pernicious, no one’s denying that what we simply do not agree with is this CRT,” Sarah Koch said. “It is critical that the school board realized that trust has been lost.”

“I am concerned as a parent especially of five mixed children that there is this idea that our children have to pick one side or the other in this racial discussion as opposed to pursuing unity and inclusion in what is best for our country and our county as a whole,” Joe Ordia said.

But there were others in attendance that did not feel the same way. Some people who spoke publically argued that misinformation was being spread about critical race theory being taught in Powhatan schools and that the school system has an obligation to ensure that the curriculum that is being taught is inclusive and diverse enough for all students.

“According to the mission statement of Powhattan County Schools this is a global community a=education and as such diversity is a part of it,” retired school teacher Karen Satchell said.

“I just really want to make sure that our students are prepared for the diverse world that they are going to enter,” former Powhatan County Schools student Allison Dunaway said. “I hope that we focus on educating our students as best as we can to better prepare them for the world and less on culture wars and terms that may be thrown around that don’t have much relevance towards education.”

But Powhatan County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Jones then tried to put the community’s concerns to rest saying Powhatan schools had no plans to teach critical race theory and that the Virginia Inquiry Collaborative, that many cited as evidence that schools would teach CRT, was nothing more than professional development training for teachers.

Public comment lasted for more than two hours before some board members agreed that based on the topics being discussed by the public that the board needed to do a better job of understanding the concerns of the public before deciding to hold a meeting.

Soon after public comment, the school board began resuming the meeting as intended.

A recording of the school board meeting can be found HERE.

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