School board gives first approval to include state-approved ‘divisive concept’ policy, others

Published 10:10 am Friday, July 29, 2022

A Divisive Concepts Complaint Resolution Process, among other policies, is on the table for public review and is being considered by the Troup County School Board.

The Troup County School Board discussed and approved the first of two readings on the state-required revisions to four school system policies last Thursday. Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate noted the four policies arose from the adoption of several legislative bills, such as Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of Georgia HB 1084 — which ultimately limits how concepts of race may be discussed in school —  this past spring. The policies were subsequently approved by the Georgia State Board of Education earlier this year.

The four policies will be voted on for a final time at the board’s August school board meeting. The policies can be viewed at https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/SB_Meetings/ViewMeeting.aspx?S=4162&MID=103153.

Board Policy – Divisive Concepts Complaint Resolution Process

The board approved a policy related to ‘divisive concepts,’ or any concepts, including views supporting such concepts, related to one’s or one’s classmate’s race. This policy is new to the school system.

Some of the language listed for this revision, as noted in school system documents, includes teaching concepts that may prove:

  • One race is inherently superior to another race.
  • The United States of America is fundamentally racist.
  • An individual, by virtue of his or her race, is inherently or consciously racist or oppressive toward individuals of other races.
  • An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race.

This revision also extends to employees of the school system and prohibits employees from “intentionally encouraging or attempting to persuade or indoctrinate a student, school community member, or other school personnel to agree with or advocate for such individual’s personal beliefs concerning divisive concepts.”

This revision directly correlates with HB 1084, also known as the Protect Students First Act, which went into effect July 1.

A requirement for the revision, as noted in school system documents, is that the Board of Education, superintendent, and each school shall ensure that curricula and training programs encourage employees and students to practice tolerance and mutual respect and to refrain from judging others based on race.

Board Policy – Material Harmful to Minors Complaint Resolution

The board approved a policy revision allowing parents or guardians an official complaint process as part of the school system’s Harmful to Minors Complaint Resolution Process.

“[The school system already has a policy in place for] parents have the right to opt-out of the materials they don’t want their kids to see,” Shumate said.

The policy, as noted in school board documents, means that quality of description or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse, can be prohibited per complaint basis.

Shumate said the school system works with each school’s media specialist to determine harmful material in school libraries and bring it to the school board as needed for review.

“Our curriculum is getting tighter overall [on inappropriate content,]” he said last Thursday. “We work with our principals to make sure that doesn’t happen here.”

Board Policy – Parents’ Bill of Rights

The board, approved a policy allowing parents to review material in their child’s curriculum. This policy is new to the school system.

The policy, called the Parents’ Bill of Rights, was passed by the state in April.

The policy would allow parents or guardians of a minor child to object to instructional materials intended for use in the classroom. A parent may recommend their child’s teacher withdraw the child from the school’s prescribed course if they find the material unsuitable. The policy also allows parents to determine whether their child can appear in any photos, videos, or audio recordings for the school. The only exception is for security recordings.

The policy would additionally allow parents to opt their children out of sex education.

The procedures required by this policy will be posted on the school district’s website and made available for review on-site upon request of a parent.

Board Policy – Unstructured Break Time

The board approved a policy revising the school system’s in-place unstructured break time, or recess, policy. According to school system documents, the Georgia Board of Education requires each elementary school to schedule recess for all students in kindergarten and grades one through five every school day.

The revised policy allows recess for students in classes six through eighth grade at the discretion of the student’s principal, Shumate said.