Parents and teachers spoke out at the first school board meeting after a North Texas administrator told teachers if they have books about the Holocaust in their classroom libraries, they also need to include books with “opposing” views of the Holocaust.
Carroll ISD in Southlake, Texas, addressed last week’s controversy when a school administrator tried to advise elementary school teachers on how to follow new district guidelines for the vetting of books. The guidelines were issued to try to align with a controversial law in Texas, which seeks to restrict discussion of race and history in schools.
Dozens of people voiced their views Monday about the controversy during a public portion of the meeting, which took nearly two hours. Some teachers were emotional and said they felt unsupported. Others defended the school administrator and said her comment may have been taken out of context.
“I’m Jewish,” mother of two students Cara Serber told CNN affiliate KTVT. “My children are Jewish, so my instant reaction was to be upset.”
The training session was first reported by NBC News. Gina Peddy, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the district, used the Holocaust as an example of a historic event that would require a teacher to keep on hand other books with “opposing” views.
“Just try to remember the concepts of (Texas House Bill) 3979,” Peddy says, referring to the new law, known as HB 3979. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has opposing, that has other perspectives.”
After further consideration, Serber said she would give the benefit of the doubt to the administrator.
“[I] think that she was the mouthpiece of the administration, and she got caught off guard, and it wasn’t fair to her,” Serber told KTVT.
Lindsay Garcia, a teacher in the district, spoke emotionally at the meeting about how let down she felt by the district and school board.
“Every day, I treat my students and their families with kindness and respect and allow my students to speak their truth without fear,” Garcia said in between tears. “I only wish that same courtesy would be extended to all my fellow educators and me.”
Lane Ledbetter, superintendent of the Carroll ISD, issued an apology Thursday after a recording was leaked of the training session during which the comment was made.
“I express my sincere apology regarding the online article and news story released today. During the conversations with teachers during last week’s meeting, the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history. Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust,” the statement read.
Board president Michelle Moore addressed the controversy at the beginning of the board meeting, recognizing the many emotions and the surrounding confusion.
“I understand there’s confusion, anger and perhaps fear,” Moore said. “While we cannot rewind these past couple of weeks, we can provide some clarity on some misconceptions.”
She explained how teachers were learning about the new legal requirements around the new law.
“As a district, we must all work together to figure out how best to apply the laws enacted by the Legislature,” Moore said. “Our message to our curriculum and instructional staff and teachers is that we support you and understand the challenges that lie ahead of you.”
The board held an executive session during the meeting, but district officials said Peddy’s employment status was not part of the agenda.
CNN’s Ashley Killough and and Ed Lavandera contributed to this report.