Critical Race Theory ban removed from San Dieguito agenda

The San Dieguito board at its Oct. 14 meeting.
(Karen Billing)

A proposed board policy change that would ban Critical Race Theory in the San Dieguito Union High School District was removed from the board’s agenda on Oct. 14 in a 4-0 vote.

The ban on Critical Race Theory (CRT) was to be an amendment to the board’s policy on “Controversial Issues”. The proposed amendment read: “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.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Trustee Michael Allman made the motion to pull the item from the agenda after having receiving hundreds of emails from community members, educators, students, former students and, uniquely, all of the district’s principals and assistant principals.

“We aren’t teaching CRT and we don’t have any plans to begin teaching it,” Allman said.

A letter from all of the district’s principals stated that the Controversial Issues policy is well-crafted and was not in need of a revision.

Per the policy, instruction related to controversial issues must be relevant to the course of study and should be designed to develop students’ critical thinking skills, ability to discriminate between fact and opinion, respect for others, and understanding and tolerance of diverse points of view. The instruction shall not reflect adversely upon persons because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, religion, or any other basis prohibited by law.

SDUHSD Vice President Melisse Mossy backed the motion to remove the item as the policy did not include a definition of CRT in its wording.

“To be honest it has created a lot of chaos as a result. I don’t want anyone to feel as though they’re being personally attacked and that was what was communicated to me through very many emails,” Mossy said. “It could be a misunderstanding but the last thing we want to do is create misunderstanding in a board policy. Our goal is to create empathy, compassion, knowledge and understanding.”

The item had been placed on the agenda at the direction of SDUHSD President Mo Muir following a presentation on the district’s efforts on equity at the board’s Sept. 30 meeting. Muir said that the board had unanimous consent to bring the item back.

At the Sept. 30 meeting, Interim Superintendent Lucile Lynch said CRT had “hijacked” the district’s discussions and efforts on equity. The district’s goals on equity and access, outlined in their Local Control Accountability Plan, include continuously improving disparities in student outcomes, finding ways to celebrate student differences, staff equity training with the San Diego County Office of Education and recruiting and retaining a diverse staff.

As the mother of a student with a disability, Lynch said the issue of equity is extremely personal to her: “Not all student experiences are the same.”

“This is to make sure that we honor that there are problems in our district,” Lynch said. “We are not taking anything away from the students who are excelling. What we are trying to do is to provide additional support so that all students have an opportunity to excel.”

Allman said a main point of concern he heard in the community was not knowing what kind of materials are being presented to teachers as they undergo equity training with the San Diego County Office of Education—there was a perceived threat of “CRT sneaking in through the back door.” Allman said he has been assured by Assistant Superintendent Bryan Marcus that CRT is not being taught in the district, is not part of the California Department of Education’s standards or frameworks and is not a part of the county’s equity professional training.