Parent Discovers Peoria Unified Staff Deception In Critical Race Theory-Based Course Adoption

Peoria Unified School District's administrative offices [Photo via PUSD social media]

Across the county parents are pushing back against Critical Race Theory-based curriculum which has been slowly introduced into their kids’ school for years. One Peoria Unified School District parent, Heather Rooks, discovered quite by accident just how deceptive some educators have been in their effort to spread the divisive material.

According to Rooks, while reviewing a public records request response she had received from the District, she uncovered the lengths some educators will go to in order to ensure that they inject the racist teachings into the classrooms.

Rooks says that during the December 10th, 2020 Peoria Unified School District Governing Board meeting staff in the Curriculum Department, in conjunction with an alumni student, who currently attends Northern Arizona University (NAU), brought forth for board approval an elective course to be offered at the District’s Centennial High School.

The agenda for the meeting only offered a small description. The lack of an outline of the coursework and no record of what texts and resources would be used in the course prompted Governing Board member Judy Doane to ask if the course work would include material associated with the controversial 1619 Project. Social Studies Curriculum Coach Jennifer Mundy advised Board members that they were to approve the course first before the coursework would be determined. Mundy told the Board members that she had communication with the Arizona Department of Education regarding the use of the 1619 Project materials as one resource for the course.

Dr. Bell, the District’s Chief Academic officer also stated that the process for new course proposals needed to be approved first by the Board then the curriculum team would work with the teacher to develop the curriculum and course work materials.

In a 3-2 vote, the Board approved the course. Doan was joined by Board member Rep. Beverly Pingerelli, who is also a member of the Arizona House of Representatives. Both women said they could not approve the course without seeing the course work first.

Arizona law requires school board to approve curriculum before it is adopted. The core texts for proposed classes must also be available for review by the public prior to approval by a school board.

Lo and behold, Rooks came across an email in the records request response that clearly shows staff’s deception during that December 2020 meeting.

In an email dated December 10, 2020 from Dr. Carter Davidson Chief Personnel Officer to Bell, Mundy, and Centennial High School Principal Scott Hollabaugh with the subject line “FYI as you prepare for later,” referring to an attachment.

Growing accustom but undaunted by the District’s practice of not turning over all relevant associated materials to a records request, Rooks then requested the attachment. The attachment showed clearly that elective course in question, titled American Studies, not only had a course outline but the texts and resources to be included in the course syllabus. It was dated October 30, 2020.

“Upon review of the December 10, 2020, PUSD (Peoria Unified School District) Board meeting video as well as the documents released to a parent constituent through public records, I believe the information is accurate,” Pingerelli told the Arizona Daily Independent. “Moreover, the video seems to indicate that the curriculum was selectively given to one or more Board members, but it was not given to at least two Board members.”

“As stated, I voted against adding this course concept as presented in the meeting,” said Pingerelli. “ I believe it’s irresponsible to divert resources for new course development when our students and families need the district administration and the governing board focused on helping them overcome the academic setbacks caused by the pandemic. Every District and Board resource should have been—and should still be– dedicated entirely to addressing student achievement in Language Arts, Math and Science.”

“I also share the view held by many–politically charged curriculum has no place in our District schools,” stated Pingerelli. “PUSD history curriculum should focus on individual rights and responsibilities, the principles of good governance, and the mechanisms for redressing grievances provided to every American in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Elective courses should expand on these topics, and students should leave high school knowing how to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and as Americans, they should know their success is dependent on their actions, not their identity. In contrast, curriculum developed around the subjective and arbitrary use of terms such as power, privilege and identity can have unintended consequences that raise serious concerns.”

Not only do Rooks and the hundreds of Peoria parents have serious concerns about the District’s Marxist Critical Race Theory-based curricula, but they also have serious concerns about the tactics used by staff to slip it into the classrooms.