POWAY, Calif. – A group gathered Thursday night outside of the Poway Unified School District offices to criticize its curriculum as well as a recent move by the board to keep its meetings virtual amid alleged death threats and safety concerns.
The district’s board voted to meet remotely in its session Thursday, citing a California law allowing them to do so when meeting in person “would present imminent risks to the health and safety of attendees.” Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps said board members and their families were receiving death threats amid a recent series of contentious meetings driven by residents angered by its pandemic mitigation strategies and the teaching of so-called critical race theory.
Carl DeMaio, a local radio show host and right-wing politician, argued Thursday that the district’s goal was “limiting the voice of the community,” a decision he calls “outrageous.”
Those who joined DeMaio rallied against the teaching of critical race theory, a topic that become a “flash point” in American culture this year, according to the Brookings Institution.
The topic was not slated to be discussed in the board’s agenda Thursday.
As of last year, Poway Unified offers high school students two elective courses: ethnic students and ethnic literature. Both are part of the district’s racial equity and inclusion program.
“It went on to talk about some people being oppressed others being oppressors,” Poway parent Tina Bartholomew said. “It talked about reparations, white privilege. Just a lot of things that led me to be concerned.”
The group is calling for the school board to hold an open meeting where any curriculum related to race can be examined by the community.
Responding to Thursday’s rally, Phelps said, “We find it unfortunate that Mr. DeMaio does not take the time to educate himself on K-12 education.”
“CRT is not being taught in Poway Unified,” she said in a statement. “Clearly this is political posturing to increase his talk show ratings.”
The district’s last meeting of the year is Dec. 16.