GRASS VALLEY, Calif. November 11, 2021 – The first in-person meeting of the Nevada Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees since the beginning of the pandemic was held yesterday – in the Wrestling Gym at Nevada Union High School. Several hundred people attended because a group called “Protecting American Ideals” was to give a presentation on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and their opinion about it. CRT is not on the curriculum of any K-12 in Nevada County.
The Trustees agreed at a prior meeting to hear the presentation and clear ground rules were set at the beginning of this meeting. A 15-minute presentation was to be followed by 30 minutes of public comment on the topic before a board discussion.
Superintendent Bret McFadden reported approximately 130 comments were received in support of the district’s efforts on inclusivity and equity and/or opposing the presentation. 4 comments in favor of the presentation were also received, McFadden stated.
The two speakers for the PAI group used a rudimentary slideshow to convey their definition of CRT.
Referring to Constitutional Fundamentals (illustrated by a copy of the Declaration of Independence) the group’s speakers, Judy Wood and Jonathan Kors, juxtaposed their group’s definitions of equality and equity. They then proceeded to read excerpts of public statements made by the Superintendent, i.e. “Nevada County’s schools must be part of the solution in creating systems that insure equitable outcomes for all students.” and quoted a Trustee Policy : “The Board and the Superintendent or designee shall develop and implement policies and strategies to promote equity in district programs.”
Public comment, guided by a sign-up list, was overwhelmingly in opposition to the two PAI speakers. Parents shared stories of bullying, name-calling and racist behavior their kids had to endure.
Some in the audience shouted over speakers, others appeared to think the two-minute time limit did not apply to them. Several times during the meeting, Board President Jaimie Reeves requested civility and respect for the board’s meeting guidelines.
At the end of the allotted time, Superintendent McFadden suggested to the Board to give a few additional supporters of PAI an opportunity to comment. But, the first speaker called upon wanted to cede her time to another person and demanded the board “follow their rules.” The board agreed and reverted to the rules set at the beginning of the item – public comment was closed.
Board discussion started with a statement by Student Board Member Anthony Pritchett. It partially reads: “The concept that I believe you have confused for CRT is actually known as skepticism and critical thinking about the country’s past. There is actually a specific course already implemented in all high schools across the country that renovates the mind of the child to see this country as the racist, oppressive machine it’s been for centuries: US History.”
Several people attempted to address both the crowd and the board, and declined to abide by the board’s rules. This led to the board taking a recess to let tempers cool off.
Vice President Pat Seeley, after reminiscing about her own high school experience and agreeing that racist behavior is always unacceptable, stated that tolerance for opposing views should be exercised and appeared surprised when she saw students shaking their heads. “I see you shaking your head, we’re not gonna be tolerant with each other?” “Not when it’s bad,” replied  a student. Seeley agreed, “You’re right, not when it’s bad. But we can tolerate each others viewpoint.” “Not when it’s racist,” a student replied. Seeley said she had nothing further to add.
Board President Jamie Reeves repeated a remark made by a speaker, saying “‘Those that don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.'” She continued, “I walk out of my front door every day completely unaware of my skin color. That is a privilege people of color do not have. I do not pretend to understand what it is like to operate in our country as a person of color and when white people do pretend, that is the ultimate form of gaslighting. I support the expansion of ethnic studies into our district curriculum and I trust and empower the qualified professionals tasked with making those selections and determinations when it comes time. I do want to thank our community for the outpouring of support for diversity initiatives and our students. In my heart, I believe we become better citizens because of it.”
There is no further discussion or action on the topic scheduled at this time. Critical Race Theory is not on any curriculum in local high schools.
November 12, 2021 at 10:42 AM Editor’s note: NJUHSD has posted the meeting video, available at this URL: https://vimeo.com/644650613