Former administrator says it ‘manipulated’ enrollment, ‘presumably to secure funding’
A Nevada charter school that allegedly forced critical race theory on students has created such an unsafe learning environment that school facilities are falling into “a state of disrepair,” leading to “neglect and inadequate supervision of students,” according to a student’s black mother.
Gabrielle Clark filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction in her ongoing lawsuit against Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, citing financial mismanagement and race-based hostility toward her biracial son.
The outcome of this financial mismanagement includes an understaffed school, the death of a student that occurred on campus grounds, and the discouragement of police investigations into reported incidents at DPAC, according to the brief, which also seeks a temporary restraining order.
The school’s precarious financial situation has been aggravated by New York-based charter network Democracy Prep Public Schools and is partly responsible for DPAC’s use of “racism as a business model.”
The emergency motion claims that financial loopholes in the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program enable this business model. DPPS has been running consistent deficits except for 2020, due to the federal COVID-19 relief measures, according to the brief.
A former senior administrator at the school claims to have witnessed “many potentially illegal, disingenuous, and harmful practices behind the scenes at the school,” according to an affidavit obtained by evolutionary biologist Colin Wright, who first publicized Clark’s December lawsuit.
Exploiting financial loopholes doesn’t seem to be an uncommon practice at DPAC, as portrayed by the unnamed witness: The school has “manipulated and inaccurately recorded” enrollment numbers in the past, “presumably to secure funding.”
The former administrator believes that “intentional racial discrimination was a determinative factor” in the “disparate treatment of William Clark,” Gabrielle’s son, by DPAC, DPPS and school and network officials. William is scheduled to graduate this year.
The financial situation “persists and aggravates the hostile environment deliberately created and tolerated by” the school and network.
13) This person states that WIlliam Clark's mother's concern for his safety are "well founded." pic.twitter.com/Bol5436wRO
— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) January 16, 2021
Racial hostility and harassment are ‘baked into’ the mandatory class
The defendants’ refusal to let William out of the graduation requirement “Sociology of Change” – the basis of the lawsuit – is indicative of their tendency to “alter, inflate and misrepresent their grading, attendance and curriculum as it suits them for various purposes.”
The course required William “to make professions about his racial, sexual, gender and religious identities in verbal class exercises and in graded, written homework assignments.”
The motion seeks to force the school to “expunge” the failing grade William was given for objecting to the course, which also told students that “[i]nterpersonal racism is what white people do to people of color close up,” such as “beatings and harrasments [sic].”
William’s deceased father was white, and the student is typically regarded as white by his peers, given his light skin, green eyes and blondish hair. He’s the only white-presenting student in the class.
In an email to officials of DPAC and DPPS, Gabrielle stated that teacher Kathryn Bass was “blatantly justifying racism against white people,” thereby putting her son “in emotional, psychological, and physical danger.”
If it weren’t for the “intentional racial prejudice” of the defendants, William would not have received a failing grade, the motion claims: Racial hostility and harassment are “baked into” the mandatory class.
Defendants punished William for objecting and “obtusely kept telling him to take it on the chin and go back to class,” contrary to the Nevada charter system’s past encouragement to students to “stand up for what is right, even if that means pushing back against a school policy,” the filing claims.
According to the administrator’s affidavit, the encouragement of student resistance was not extended to William “because of [his] perceived race.” He received a D-minus in contravention of DPAC’s handbook, which explicitly bans grades below C because they can prevent a student’s acceptance to “the best colleges and universities.”
‘Investing in consultants who shared her idiosyncratic commitments on race’
Chronic deficits and mismanagement “endanger student safety, and put students in unique situations like William at greater risk,” the witness claims.
This found expression in certain investment decisions made by Natasha Trivers (below), CEO of the charter network. According to the witness, Trivers “appeared to be investing in consultants who shared her idiosyncratic commitments on race, which I assumed were largely reserved for staff and school leader training at the time.”
One consultant, an organization called OneTilt, produced a slideshow presentation entitled “Decentering White Dominant* Culture Through Management.”
This slideshow included the stated objectives of the organization, such as strengthening students to be “anti-racist practitioners in schools,” learning the “common components of dominant culture,” and practicing “strategies to deconstruct and/or decenter white dominant culture at work.”
In another slide, audiences are told to “experience discomfort” and “expect and accept non-closure” as part of having courageous conversations about race. It also tells audiences to “honor multiple identities and intersectionality; prioritize race.”
Another slide lists components of white supremacist culture, which it says includes “worship of the written word (and those degrees),” “reason > emotion” and “numbers over stories.”
22) Kids are taught to "honor multiple identities and intersectionality" but to "prioritize race." pic.twitter.com/G1SH0RhQEK
— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) January 17, 2021
Nevertheless, Trivers still “found issue” with the organization because it had “too many white authors in its suggested reading,” the former administrator says.
Trivers and Principal Adam Johnson also endangered students through their “ideological preoccupations regarding law enforcement,” according to the affidavit. Johnson allegedly told the administrator that if two detectives who were visiting the campus had guns and badges, they could not be made “visible” and “must be contained at the front conference room.”
Moreover, after an incident of “abuse/neglect/student sexual conduct in a bathroom,” Johnson told the witness not to allow the police to “park in front of our building.” The principal and network “did not want a police presence on campus, regardless if it was legitimate,” the witness claims.
The ideological preoccupation of Trivers and Johnson (below) produced a chilling effect among the administrator and other staff, who were “hesitant to raise objections about the practical consequences” of the policies “because of the sensitive and racial nature of their commitments.”
Even worse than mandatory Pledge of Allegiance
This alleged chilling effect is echoed in the recent filing from the Clarks.
William’s failing grade “chills speech and preserves a fear based, hostile environment” in violation of the biracial student’s First Amendment rights: The court should not allow this situation to remain pending trial.
Also unacceptable: the “current remedial offer” by the defendants that William “go back and submit to their unlawful coursework, and be subjected to their racist PowerPoint slides again.”
The Clarks seek an order that making students divulge their sexual, gender, racial and religious identities and disabilities, only to have them “normatively and pejoratively labeled,” is unconstitutionally compelled speech. Since the school is overseen by Nevada’s charter regulator, its discretion over its curriculum is limited by the First Amendment, they claim.
Seeking compelled speech from William is even worse than the mandatory Pledge of Allegiance salute struck down by the Supreme Court, as DPAC faculty are “applying discriminatory stereotyped labels to the identities professed,” such as “oppressor” or “privileged.”
This also serves as the basis for the brief’s Title IX discrimination claim, as “William would have been consenting to the ‘oppressor’ and ‘privilege’” labels in “professing his sexuality.”
“Perpetuating such a program is not in the public interest because it is cruel, and serves no legitimate state purpose,” according to the filing.
The racial composition of William’s family is so “complex and sensitive” that it cannot be “easily slotted into rough, pre-ordained categories that are untrue to the Clarks’ lived experience.”
UPDATE: The headline has been modified.
IMAGES: Democracy Prep Public Schools screenshot, Democracy Prep Public Schools/YouTube