- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 10, 2021

Critical race theory has made the jump from the ivory tower to public school classrooms. Now it’s in the courtroom.

A Las Vegas charter school is being sued in federal court by a family alleging the school is indoctrinating children into the view that White people are inherently racist and perpetuate their economic and political power by oppressing people of color.

“This isn’t some passing ideological trend,” said Jonathan O’Brien, a lawyer with SchoolhouseRights.org who filed the lawsuit for the family. “These people are crackpot bigots.”

Opponents of critical race theory expect further lawsuits as more parents find out that schools are teaching the idea put forth largely by prominent Black scholars and authors in recent decades that White privilege is, in effect, codified across all aspects of American society.

The charter school in the Nevada lawsuit, the Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, allegedly forced students to identify by race, sex and sexual orientation and then labeled some of them as “oppressors” in classes. The critical race curriculum was launched without parental notification, according to the lawsuit in federal district court.

The plaintiff is William Clark, a senior who has attended DPAC for several years and is viewed as White by his classmates. His mother, Gabrielle Clark, is Black. His deceased father was White.

The Clarks contend that William was uncomfortable revealing personal information in the new Sociology of Change class or participating in activities in a separate Change the World class. He felt it branded him immediately as a racist oppressor while violating his Christian faith, according to the lawsuit.

The school “deliberately created a hostile education environment for [William] who unlike his classmates appears to be and is regarded by his peers as white,” according to the lawsuit.

The school rejected offers for a compromise arrangement and retaliated against William with threats to fail him and refuse a diploma, thereby jeopardizing his shot at college, Mr. O’Brien said.

DPAC Principal Adam Johnson did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Times.

The lawsuit adds to increased nationwide scrutiny of race theory classes. President Trump issued an executive order in September prohibiting the ideology from being taught in federal workplaces.

DPAC began incorporating the critical race theory material when Democracy Prep Public Schools Inc. took over the Las Vegas campus in 2017. Democracy Prep’s curriculum materials are crafted in its Park Avenue headquarters, from which it runs 21 schools in five states, according to its website.

The group formed in 2005 and opened its first school in New York City the following year.

Democracy Prep describes its mission as “to educate responsible citizen-scholars for success in the college of their choice and a life of active citizenship.”

The company disputed the notion that it was pushing a radical left-wing agenda.

“Democracy Prep stands firmly against racism,” said company spokeswoman Princess Lyles. “Our curriculum teaches students about American democracy and movements for social change throughout our history. We strongly disagree with how the curriculum has been characterized in this filing.”

William had loved DPAC since he first enrolled in sixth grade. The new curriculum, however, in Las Vegas was implemented without parental involvement or notification when Democracy Prep took over in the fall of 2017, according to the lawsuit.

Some top school administrators and a teacher are also named as defendants.

Mr. O’Brien said a left-wing group of business executives and educators have injected critical race theory into the schools to indoctrinate children into modern social justice theories, and are doing so with indifference as to how the philosophy may sit with students and parents of multiple faiths, personalities and creeds.

“There is nothing unique about the Clarks’ situation,” he said. “But they had the courage to do something about it.”

When the class began last year, teacher Kathryn Bass greeted students by saying, “Hello, my wonderful social justice warriors,” according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Bass ordered students to fill out assignments with personal information. The class material made crystal clear who would be perceived as bad regardless of their thinking or beliefs, the lawsuit alleged.

“A visual graphic … instructed participants that ‘oppression’ is ‘malicious or unjust treatment or exercise of power,’” the lawsuit claimed, quoting classroom material. “The lesson categorized certain racial and religious identities as inherently ‘oppressive,’ singling these identities out in bold text, and instructed pupils including William Clark, who fell into these categories, to accept the label ‘oppressor’ regardless of whether they disagreed with the pejorative characterization of their heritage, convictions and identities.”

“In addition to the white racial identity, defendants singled and assigned inherent moral attributes to pupils who fell into male, heterosexual gender/sex identities and Christian religious categories, calling them intrinsically oppressive,” said the lawsuit.

The Clarks were appalled and felt the situation thrust William into what the Clarks described as “a deliberately designed, psychologically abusive dilemma: participate in the exercise in violation of his conscience and be branded with a pejorative label; or conscientiously refrain from participation and suffer isolation from his classmates and be maligned with the same labeling regardless.”

Gabrielle Clark first sought solutions from DPAC administrators who refused any accommodation, the lawsuit alleged.

DPAC turned vindictive against William, Mr. O’Brien said, even though Democracy Prep CEO Natasha Trivers tweeted in March that students should fight what they perceive as injustice, “even if that means pushing back against a school policy, occupying a cafeteria or staging a walkout.”

The school hit William with a D- for his unwillingness to participate, even though Democracy Prep maintains it does not give D’s to its students because that would hurt their college applications.

After school official rebuffed them several times, the Clarks contacted education activist Elana Yaron Fishbein, who said her sons were confronted with similar critical race theory classes in a Pennsylvania public school, the Lower Merion School District in Montgomery County.

Ms. Fishbein launched No Left Turn in Education, which now has chapters in 16 states, and which works with Mr. O’Brien.

“They are just hitting with this agenda to radicalize our kids with these books that are totally racist,” said Ms. Fishbein, an Israeli immigrant who has since put her sons in a private school.

“We have a lot of people consulting with us, and there will be a lot of lawsuits going forward.”

Mr. O’Brien said he was seeking litigation against critical race theory because he has seen it creep into professional organizations, including the New York Bar Association.

The Clarks, whom Mr. O’Brien declined to make available for an interview, became the first plaintiffs because their case was so well documented, Mr. OBrien and Ms. Fishbein said.

“It is incredible to me that we have a First Amendment and yet people are terrified to talk, to speak, to voice their opinions,” Ms. Fishbein said. “We have now been contacted by tens of thousands of parents. It is literally a cry for help.”

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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