Although Black History Month is an integral part of American culture every year, this year’s annual observance of the month is a little bit more quintessential considering the race relations in the country right now. A Utah charter school, however, came under fire after the school’s director announced in a post that parents would be allowed to opt students out of curriculum planned to incorporate Black History Month in its lesson plan.
Maria Montessori Academy Director Micah Hirokawa announced the decision in a post on Friday (February 5), penning that he “reluctantly” sent out a letter to families letting them know the school was allowing them “to exercise their civil rights to not participate in Black History Month at the school.” He noted “a few families” had specifically requested to not participate in the curriculum but declined to name exactly how many.
He went on to add that the demand from parents, “deeply saddens and disappoints me.” He wrote, “We should not shield our children from the history of our Nation, the mistreatment of its African American citizens, and the bravery of civil rights leaders, but should educate them about it.” Many took to social media to express their outrage over the move, dubbing it racist and insensitive, leading them to later rescind the decision Saturday (February 6).
The school has taken down the Facebook post the statement was originally taken down and a new statement was shared, this time confirming opting-out was no longer on the table. “We are grateful that families that initially had questions and concerns have willingly come to the table to resolve any differences and at this time no families are opting out of our planned activities and we have removed this option,” wrote Hirokawa and the school’s boards of directors.
According to state school board data, of the 322 students enrolled at the school, three students are Black and 69.6% are white. “You can’t opt-out of black history. Black history is American history,” said one parent to a local news station. “So, it absolutely comes from a place of racism and ignorance.”