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Carroll ISD divided after heated election focused on anti-racism plan

The plan has been in development for years but stalled after lawsuits. Recent board meetings have had hours of debate over putting the plan in place.

SOUTHLAKE, Texas — Since last summer, Carroll ISD board meetings have been including hours of shouting, arguing, boos and applause.

The divide continued Wednesday night after a divisive election for two board seats, and district leaders haven’t shared any plan to heal it.

“As a community we need to come together and do better,” a parent said during the meeting.

The focus of the arguing has been around a Cultural Competence Action Plan that supporters say increases inclusion, allows minority students to have a stronger voice and tracks and reduces bullying. Its development started in early 2019 and was spurred on after two videos of students laughing and shouting a racial slur went viral.

RELATED: Southlake parents upset as Carroll ISD delays adopting new district diversity plan

Critics call the plan reverse racism and say it teaches critical race theory, an anti-racism academic idea looking at how government policies prevent racial equity. The term, though, has been a political talking point and a bill in the Texas legislature would essentially ban it from being taught in schools.

RELATED: 'Are we not appalled yet?' Southlake parents demand Carroll ISD create diversity and inclusion plan

“It’s very divisive and it’s segregationist,” one parent said in Wednesday’s meeting.

“This Marxist trash has no place in the halls of Carroll ISD,” Angie Dawkins, another parent said. “Make no mistake, the war is on to indoctrinate our kids.”

Two anti-CCAP candidates, Hannah Smith and Cam Bryan, won 70% of the vote in the May 1 election that had record turnout for the school board seats.

“We will work each seat on this board until each one holds a strong conservative,” a parent said during public comment.

Both Bryant and Smith turned down requests to talk, but Smith recently spoke to Fox News in an interview to discuss her win.

“It was a radical response by our community saying we will not stand for this false narrative anymore,” Smith said.

RELATED: Grand jury indicts Carroll ISD board president, vice president

School board president Michelle Moore and Superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter also didn’t want to talk about the plan forward for the district.

Moore emailed a statement last week that said in part, “Disagreeing respectfully on issues we are passionate about isn't always easy, but our kids are watching and deserve a better example of how to work together to solve problems."

Parents on both sides of the issue have filed lawsuits, board members were indicted for violating open meeting laws and progress has halted. Hundreds of current and former students have submitted stories of racism and bullying to the district.

RELATED: State Sen. Royce West sends letter to Carroll ISD demanding it adopt embattled diversity plan

“What is your plan to protect all of our CISD dragons, not just our white, straight Christian students?” Jennifer Green Godette said.

“Why are you disingenuously distracting with this cockamamie, monster-under-the-bed narrative?” Sravan Krishna said of the attacks on the plan.

Ed Hernandez, who lost to Smith in the election, spoke in the meeting, too.  

“It’s time to bring the community together through actions, open and honest communication and more than anything, transparency,” he said.

Carroll ISD is divided. Right now, there’s no clear plan or path for how to fix it.