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School district administrator says 'opposing' views on the Holocaust should be taught — due to new Texas law — and parents, students, teachers are up in arms

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Jewish Rabbis captured during destruction of Warsaw Ghetto, Poland, 1943. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Parents, students, and teachers packed the Carroll Independent School District's board meeting Monday night, up in arms after a district administrator said "opposing" views and perspectives on the Holocaust should be taught — all due to a new Texas law.

What's the background?

NBC News obtained a recording of Gina Peddy, the district's executive director of curriculum and instruction, saying during a training session this month, "Make sure that ... if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing — that has other perspectives."

"How do you oppose the Holocaust?" Peddy was asked during the meeting.

"Believe me, that's come up," she replied.

Peddy was addressing requirements of newly passed HB 3979, a Texas bill passed over the summer requiring teachers to include multiple perspectives when discussing controversial social events in history, KDFW-TV reported.

District Superintendent Lane Ledbetter apologized last week after Peddy's remarks, indicating there "are not two sides of the Holocaust" and promising to work with his staff to clarify the district's policy, NBC News reported.

What was said at the school board meeting?

More than 50 speakers addressed the school board Monday, the network said.

Jake Berman — who is Jewish and a former student — said he contemplated suicide over anti-Semitic bullying he endured when he attended school, after which his parents pulled him out, NBC News said.

"I received everything from jokes about my nose to gas chambers, all while studying for my bar mitzvah," Berman said, according to the network. He added that Peddy's words spotlight the problem with new laws that limit how teachers talk about racism and other controversial subjects.

NBC News reported: "The facts are that there are not two sides of the Holocaust. The Nazis systematically killed millions of people. There are not two sides of slavery. White Europeans enslaved black Africans in this country until June 19, 1865, a moment we're barely 150 years removed from."

Jewish parent Rob Forst said he's a descendant of Holocaust survivors, the network reported, and that his family is now wondering if they want to stay in Southlake — the municipality encompassing Carroll ISD about 30 minutes northwest of Dallas.

Forst added that Ledbetter should issue a stronger condemnation regarding Peddy's "completely unacceptable" comments, NBC News added.

However, some said that while they don't see eye to eye with Peddy's example, they don't believe she's racist or anti-Semitic, KFDW reported.

"I feel there must be more to the story or some sort of misunderstanding," one parent said in her defense, the station reported.

"The administrator is not a Holocaust denier," resident Katy Pratt said, according to NBC News. "She made a mistake under duress. The focus should be on the law, not the administrator."

But others wanted Peddy fired, KFDW noted, as one parent said, "I am ashamed and disgusted by what is going on here."

Rena Honea, president of Alliance American Federations of Teachers, told the station the new law is vague and causes stress and confusion.

"Unfortunately, this is a real effort to politicize our educational system," Honea said. "You are talking about a law that is put in place that calls for interpretation. And it doesn't always have an opposing viewpoint, and they are creating that."

More from KDFW:

Earlier this month, a Southlake teacher was reprimanded after having a book titled "This Book is Anti-Racist" in her classroom. At first, she wasn't reprimanded after a student brought it home and upset a parent.

Parents appealed that decision and won.

Monday night, some teachers say now they do not feel safe. [...]

Controversy at Carroll ISD has been ongoing ever since a cultural diversity plan was delayed. It was developed after an offensive video involving students made headlines in 2018. [...]

The diversity plan was halted after parents alleged board members violated the Open Meetings Act while discussing it.

In May, two board members won their seats campaigning against the drafted plan.

Even more to it

NBC News added that the teacher training during which Peddy made her controversial remarks was about what books could be kept in the classroom. The district — in an effort to comply with the new state law — asked teachers to evaluate books based on whether they provide multiple perspectives and to ditch any that present singular, dominant narratives "in such a way that it ... may be considered offensive," the network added.

But state Sen. Bryan Hughes (R) — who wrote the bill — told NBC News it doesn't require teachers to provide opposing views about matters of "good and evil" or to toss books with only one perspective on the Holocaust.

"That's not what the bill says," Hughes added to the network last week. "I'm glad we can have this discussion to help elucidate what the bill says, because that's not what the bill says."

KDFW added that Peddy was still employed with the district as of Monday night.

Carroll ISD addresses Holocaust controversy at latest school board meeting youtu.be

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