The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an investigation into a Texas school district where an administrator pushed teachers to present “opposing” perspectives of the Holocaust.
On Wednesday, the OCR acknowledged that an inquiry had been opened in the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas. The district faces three separate allegations of discrimination based on race and gender filed by students, and claims to be “fully cooperating” with the agency’s work.
The details of the three instances the agency is looking into have not been revealed. However, Carroll Independent Schools has made national headlines several times this year over a number of disturbing choices by administrators — including telling teachers during a staff training that they should offer “opposing…perspectives” to the Holocaust, and removing anti-racist books from libraries after parents complained the books went against their “morals and faith.”
Several parents within the district — which is majority white but which has become more diverse in recent years — have lauded the decision to open an investigation, noting a number of troubling actions taken by students and teachers alike.
Three years ago, the district had promised to address racism after a video of white students chanting the n-word went viral. After that video was posted, former students came forward noting a number of cases of harassment toward nonwhite and LGBTQ students in the recent past.
The school district’s promises to address racism went unfulfilled after conservative parents packed school board meetings to block the district’s Cultural Competence Action Plan (CCAP) in 2020. A number of those parents had complained that giving diversity training to teachers and students amounted to “reverse racism.”
Parents in favor of the OCR’s decision to investigate also noted specific instances involving their own children facing bigotry from other students and teachers. One Muslim parent told local media that their child was forced to sit through a classroom lesson on 9/11 five years ago that “insinuated that all Muslims are terrorists.” After the lesson was over, the child’s peers asked whether she was a terrorist and whether she was going to kill them, the parent added.
But much of the community remains starkly opposed to any action seeking to address bigotry in the district, including this latest intervention by the Department of Education. Southlake Mayor John Huffman lashed out at the OCR investigation, claiming — without evidence — that the inquiry was a response from the federal government over the schools dropping curricula on Critical Race Theory (CRT) from its planned lessons.
“I don’t think I am alone in wondering if this investigation is retaliation for our voters rejecting the pro-CRT CCAP plan, especially since the threat to involve the federal government was made by some CCAP supporters to the media,” Huffman alleged.
The district had never intended to teach lessons on Critical Race Theory, a subgenre of legal studies, normally reserved for college or university-level coursework, that examines the effects of race and gender structures in society and in the law. Conservatives across the U.S. have sought to turn Critical Race Theory into a new “boogeyman” for parents to fear, in order to block any lessons that critically examine the country’s history of racism, colonialism and white supremacy.