Texas School District Clarifies Comments on Classrooms Needing Books with 'Other Perspectives' of Holocaust

·2 min read
Carroll Senior High School
Carroll Senior High School

BigRed606/Wikimedia Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas

A Texas school district that's been spotlighted as a case study for the divisiveness over teaching about race and racism in public schools is making headlines again for an administrator's comments about the Holocaust.

During a training session about books in the classroom, Carroll Independent School District's executive director of curriculum and instruction, Gina Peddy, spoke to teachers in the city of Southlake about a state law in Texas, House Bill 3979, which requires that "diverse and contending perspectives" be included in lessons about "widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs."

NBC News obtained a secret recording of Peddy, who remarked in the audio, "Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives."

According to the report, Peddy was recorded in the training session last Friday, telling teachers, "Just try to remember the concepts of 3979."

On Thursday, Carroll ISD posted a response on its Facebook page clarifying Peddy's remarks. "The comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history," Superintendent Lane Ledbetter said in the statement. "Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust. As we continue to work through implementation of HB3979, we also understand this bill does not require an opposing viewpoint on historical facts."

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The bill, which went into effect Sept. 1, and Texas Senate Bill 3, an updated version that will become law in December, does not specifically address books kept in classroom libraries.

In the recorded comments, Peddy echoes the fear and confusion about what's required of teachers in Texas.

"We are in the middle of a political mess," Peddy said in the recording. "We just have to do the best that we can."

"I think we're all just really terrified," a teacher says later in a portion of the audio posted on NBC News' site.

"I wish I could take that away," Peddy replied, adding later, "No one knows how to navigate these waters."

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"Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements," Carroll ISD spokeswoman Karen Fitzgerald told NBC News. "Our purpose is to support our teachers in ensuring they have all of the professional development, resources and materials needed. Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable."

NBC News produced a six-part podcast called "Southlake" that "tells the story of how this idyllic city, and its local school board election, became the poster child for a new political strategy with national repercussions," according to a description.

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