Gallatin County Schools board this week banned critical race theory in an effort to "not create greater divisions" among students and staff, superintendent Larry Hammond wrote in a Thursday statement to The Enquirer.
The five board members – Rebecca Burgett, Hargis Davis, Amanda Dunavent, Chuck Toler and Sonya Giles – have not responded to The Enquirer with additional comments about the decision.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to ban critical race theory (CRT) throughout the district, which is comprised of 1,725 students located in a county that is 95% white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is the first school board in the Cincinnati region and apparently the first board in Kentucky to do so.
The theory, which is not generally taught in K-12 schools, is an academic study that explores how racism is ingrained in systems, like public schools and politics, lifting up white people and creating barriers for people of color. CRT is oftentimes taught at the collegiate level.
In his statement, Hammond wrote the board believes no individual is "inherently racist, sexist or oppressive" due to their own race or sex, "whether consciously or unconsciously."
The language is reminiscent of a proposed bill by state Rep. Joseph Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, to ban teachers from discussing systemic racism or related concepts in the classroom. Bill Request 60 was filed ahead of Kentucky's 2022 legislative session, which begins in January.
One of the bill's prohibited topics for teachers includes the idea that any individual is "inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive" by virtue of their own race or sex, "whether consciously or unconsciously." The bill also bans teachers from teaching anything that would promote "divisions between, or resentment of" different groups of people, like religious groups, political groups or social classes.
Hammond said the board "feels strongly that individual student needs remain a priority in all aspects of planning and service delivery." These needs should be met equitably, he added.
"Such examples would include contracts to provide increased services to meet mental and behavioral health issues of students without respect of sex, race or socioeconomic status," Hammond wrote.
Here is Hammond's full statement:
Gallatin County Board of Education feels strongly that individual student needs remain a priority in all aspects of planning and service delivery. The Board further expects and promotes student needs being met equitably. Such examples would include contracts to provide increased services to meet mental and behavioral health issues of students without respect of sex, race or socio-economic status. The Board also believes no individual is “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive” due to their race or sex, “whether consciously or unconsciously”. Agenda item VI.I. from the June 15 BOE meeting “Discussion/Action to Ban Critical Race Theory in Gallatin County School District” was a statement to affirm the belief and commitment to ensure every child’s needs will be met. Furthermore, the effort was to not create greater divisions among students and staff through the promotion of CRT.