The move came after several hours of emotional public comment and a presentation by a school district task force, the District Diversity Council (DDC). The DDC was formed in part due to a widely circulated video of CISD students using a racial slur in 2018.
The DDC presented the proposal as a necessary step to address racism and diversity concerns in the school district, which encompasses Southlake and parts of Westlake, Grapevine, and Colleyville.
After some parliamentary quibbling by trustees, a modified motion was adopted by a vote of 5-2 to “receive” the DDC’s Cultural Competence Action Plan without implementing it. Trustees Eric Lannen and Matt Bryant voted against the motion.
While there was consensus that the district should address its diversity, Lannen said that he was unsure of the purpose of the vote and Bryant did not believe a vote was necessary because the board was not adopting a policy but simply receiving a report.
Trustee Sheri Mills, who voted in favor of the motion, said that many people had worked hard on the project and it deserved a vote.
The controversial proposal is characterized by opponents as a political agenda that could result in the school district infringing on parental rights and punishing students for dissension from progressive ideologies.
Presiding Trustee Michelle Moore said that she was disappointed by the pushback to the diversity proposal.
“I think there is a lot of concern, confusion, and misconception,” Moore said.
Several trustees expressed misgivings over the language of the proposal, specifically regarding the definition of the term “microaggression.”
The document defines “microaggression” as “everyday verbal or nonverbal, snubs or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized or underrepresented group membership.”
Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Dr. Janet McDade contended that discipline under the plan would be corrective, especially for younger students who may inadvertently use a microaggression. McDade declined during the meeting to provide a list of examples of microaggressions that would be grounds for disciplinary action.
Many trustees suggested holding board workshops to fine-tune the plan and to incorporate more public opinion into the process.
Trustee Todd Carlton asserted that there should be more work on the language in the CCAP before it’s implemented.
Some trustees indicated that the CCAP has divided the community over political issues and that the matter was too important to rush a proposal through without creating a plan that is widely favored.
Trustee Bryant added that he believes the board is responsible for enacting policy and should be more involved in the process rather than simply accepting the work of another entity.
Public comment in favor of the proposal included concerns about students being targeted for their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. One CISD alumnus recalled being harassed by classmates for being Asian American when she was eleven years old.
One current CISD high school student said that those in opposition to the proposal were against it for “ignorant and selfish” reasons. And another went on an expletive-laced tirade against trustees, prompting Moore to request that profanity be excluded from public comments.
Public comment against the proposal included concerns over the school district forming a culture of presumption of guilt. Others expressed fear that administrators would advance ideologies that run counter to the values of parents in the district, specifically related to marriage and gender.
Opponents of the CCAP agreed that racism should not be tolerated in the district but disagreed with the proposed approach presented by the plan, arguing that moral instruction is a parental responsibility.
Much of the criticism revolved around the use of the term “microaggression” in the CCAP, which opponents believe is too vague and will result in a suppression of free speech.
CISD is a highly-rated school district, has a zero percent dropout rate, and a 98 percent attendance rate, according to the district website.
Read the plan below.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."