I feel compelled to speak about something as I have had five times more communication from the public on this challenging opportunity than anything else that has ever happened in the eleven months I’ve sat on this board. I have received without exaggeration 50 phone calls from elected officials, CMCSS employees, and parents extremely upset and uncomfortable with what came out in the national and local news about CMCSS. As their elected official I feel compelled to speak on their behalf.

CMCSS at the annual ENGAGE Conference gave district faculty members the opportunity to lead sessions. At a session, we had two counselors who conducted training that had content that labeled privileged statuses such as “white,” “cisgender men,” “heterosexual,” and “Christian” with the header stating, “Social identities, privilege, and oppression outside of race.”

Let me be abundantly clear – I was appalled when I first saw this chart and immediately raised this with our director. Oppressing one race or segment of people to lift up another is absolutely unequivocally wrong.

Now for more context, this was not a CMCSS district-wide training. There were hundreds of sessions for educators to choose from and the 35 individuals who participated opted-in to it. The content was developed independently by educators. CMCSS leadership is now re-evaluating the process in which educator-created content is included in ENGAGE for next summer to ensure all sessions are aligned with District expectations. Employees are trained annually on these prohibited concepts that are against State law and should not be taught. Dr. Luna-Vedder has ensured the board that there will be an additional level of scrutiny and approval placed before allowing presentations to be presented in the future to ensure messaging aligns with district expectations. I thank the Director for this stance and for clearly defining the boundaries for the future.

Let me also be clear to state that CMCSS has absolutely amazing teachers, counselors, and faculty members and the overall vast majority of everyone is doing a great job and following procedures. I have heard directly through a ton of phone conversations with many educators about the negative impact that they have had because of these two counselors. I have had many of our teachers tell me they do not want to be associated with this line of thinking and feel this has made it harder for them to confidently do their job. One teacher told me bluntly, that as a white Christian male, he now feels like he will be questioned if he has to discipline a child that was labeled in the oppressed category. This is unfortunate. He and many others in the community including parents, elected officials, and teachers have expressed to me that they feel that disciplinary action should be implemented to send the correct message that this sort of action doesn’t define our district as these counselors have been trained annually on these prohibited topics and knew they were out of bounds and knowingly added these materials after they were approved to present. If any one of those 35 in attendance implemented this presentation they would be breaking state law and put us at risk for withholding of funds from the state.

This greatly concerns me and I look forward to continuing to receive updates on this matter.