ENCINITAS — A proposed policy change banning the teaching of critical race theory within the San Dieguito Union High School District was pulled from the agenda during last week’s school board meeting.
The suggested amendment to the district’s Board Policy 6144 regarding “controversial issues” incorporated the following language: “Instruction shall not teach or include Critical Race Theory as part of the curriculum, instruction or educational materials. Critical Race Theory is not required by the State Board of Education as part of any of its content standards or framework.”
The change did not include a definition of critical race theory or CRT.
In a blog post by the California School Boards Association, the organization defines critical race theory as “a practice of interrogating race and racism in society and the ways in which it impacts people. CRT emphasizes race as a social construct (a classification system developed by society that can change over time, rather than fixed biological categories) with social significance, not a biological reality.”
At a previous board meeting, district staff confirmed that critical race theory was not currently being taught within the district.
Trustee Michael Allman requested to pull the item, saying he had received numerous emails from students, families and even principals asking to have the item removed. Allman said he was unaware of the proposed change until a pre-board meeting with Interim Superintendent Lucile Lynch and the staff on Tuesday.
A source close to Allman said he spent the week finding a way to get the item removed.
“We aren’t teaching CRT,” Allman said at the beginning of the meeting. “No one is suggesting that we do so. And I think uniquely since I’ve been on the board this is the only time that I’ve been contacted by all of our principals and assistant principals on a board agenda item.”
Allman made a motion requesting to remove the item from the agenda, prompting agreement from Trustees Katrina Young and Melisse Mossy.
“I lost count at 100 emails and I would say that we received emails from current students, past students, future families, educators of all levels,” Young said. “I do believe that talking about race and racism is a very important topic inside a classroom.”
Mossy also pointed to the lack of a definition in the language of the proposed change.
“To be honest it has created a lot of chaos,” Mossy said. “As a result, I don’t want anyone to feel like they are being personally attacked.”
Before the meeting, Kathy Stenger, co-lead of Encinitas4Equality’s Equity on Education group, spoke with The Coast News and questioned why the item was added to the agenda in the first place.
“What they are doing is really caving to the sort of far-right, dog-whistling strategy and it’s just really disappointing,” Stenger said. “I don’t think they actually understand what critical race theory is.”
Lexi Worms, a junior at Canyon Crest Academy and a member of the black student union, says they have had meetings with different members of the school board and staff from the district to propose ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the district.
Worms said she has seen progress be made within the district but was disheartened by the proposed ban on CRT.
“If anything we wanted to see the expansion of discussion about race and about these issues — about black history, about black students in the district,” Worms said. “We’re already marginalized in the district. CCA is one percent black. So feeling that you have a platform where you can openly discuss issues of race and things that may be bothering you is something that we touched on when speaking with board members. But I feel like this would do the opposite.”