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Union: Rockwood teachers face threats over equity curriculum

May 5, 2021 GMT

EUREKA, Mo. (AP) — Teachers and staff in a St. Louis-area school district say opponents of the district’s new diversity and equity programs are posting threats of violence on social media, according to a union representing the teachers.

The union sent a letter to the school board in the Rockwood School District and Superintendent Mark Miles on Saturday asking that teachers and staff be protected from the attacks and that leaders address an “unhealthy and unproductive” environment in the district.

The school board plans to address the letter from the Rockwood National Education Association’s executive board on Thursday, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

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The union asked Rockwood leaders to work to clear up misconceptions about diversity initiatives, support teachers who are instructing on sensitive topics, create standards for respectful communication and release a “call for civility” in the community.

Like many districts nationwide, Rockwood is trying to implement a more inclusive curriculum and close racial disparities in discipline and test scores. Opponents argue the curriculums amount to reverse discrimination by shaming white teachers and students.

At least two Rockwood administrators of color have reported receiving death threats this year, including Brittany Hogan, the district’s director of educational equity and diversity. The second was Terry Harris, Rockwood’s executive director of student services. Hogan and superintendent Miles, who is white, both plan to resign at the end of the year.

Rockwood spokeswoman Mary LaPak said the district has provided personal security for some administrators this year, in addition to using metal detectors at school board meetings.

“There were a number of social media posts and voicemails directed at district administrators that our head of security deemed disturbing and categorized as indirect threats towards district personnel and that’s why the security was provided at their homes,” LaPak said.

In a letter to teachers on Tuesday, Miles said administrators stand behind the staff, curriculum and the goal of ensuring that all students are provided an equitable, welcoming and safe learning environment.