Utah charter school withdraws petition to make Black History Month “participation optional”

Parents who requested to exclude their children from participating in the Black History Month curriculum at a northern Utah charter school withdrew their petitions after criticism, according to USA Today. 

Maria Montessori Academy had planned to make Black History month participation optional, requested by the parents at the school. “Reluctantly, I sent out a letter to our school community explaining that families are allowed to exercise their civil rights to not participate in Black History Month at the school,” Academy Director Micah Hirokawa and the school’s board of directors wrote. Despite having opposing personal beliefs such as the parents’ request “deeply saddens and disappoints me,” he wrote. He continued, “We should not shield our children from the history of our Nation, the mistreatment of its African American citizens, and the bravery of civil rights leaders, but should educate them about it.”

The school’s Facebook page appears to be removed since Saturday. After the Standard-Examiner reported the decision, community members responded with criticism. “I strongly believe we cannot learn American history without learning Black history,” U.S. Rep. Blake D. Moore, a Republican whose district includes North Ogden, said in a statement over the weekend. “Imagine if we had to teach Utah history without highlighting the persecution of early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who led the migration west.” Facing critics, the school has since reversed its decision and said that all students would be taking part in Black History Month.

“We are grateful that families that initially had questions and concerns have willingly come to the table to resolve any differences and at this time no families are opting out of our planned activities and we have removed this option,” the statement posted on their school’s website said. “We regret that after receiving requests, an opt-out form was sent out concerning activities planned during this month of celebration,” a statement from Academy Director Micah Hirokawa and the school’s board of directors said. School officials said a few families have requested an exemption from the instruction, but have not said how many or the reasons why. In the future, Hirokawa said, the school wants to address parents’ concerns individually instead.




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