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Watchdog group claims Utah educators skirting rules on restricted topics

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Watchdog group Accuracy in Media has released a video featuring educators and administrators at several Utah school districts.

AIM claimed the video shows these educators explain how they get around the rules when it comes to teaching restricted content like critical race theory.

“Today’s installment of our investigation into public education takes us to the incredibly red, incredibly conservative state of Utah, where once again we found public school administrators who are more than happy to deceive parents, in order to push the principles associated with critical race theory,” said AIM’s Adam Guillette in the video.

The video was released several days ago and has been featured on a number of media outlets. The Utah State Board of Education took notice and announced an investigation.

“We are aware of recent allegations against several school districts regarding potential disregard for law or rule on divisive topics being taught within the school setting,” USBE said, in part, in a statement. “As the state’s oversight entity for all public education, USBE will review the allegations to determine what appropriate action is necessary.”

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2News reached out to several Utah school districts seen in the video. All are pushing back against the claims made by AIM.

“Along with the Utah State Board of Education, Murray City School District is reviewing allegations put forth in the AIM video that was shared on Fox News last week,” said a Murray school district spokesperson in a statement. “We have noted some inaccuracies in the accounts shared by our staff member being interviewed. We are also concerned about soundbites that omit context, tenor, and questions that elicited the responses. For this reason, and to make a fair assessment of the comments, we are requesting a full uncut version of the interview from AIM as part of our review. If AIM complies, we will share this with the other districts and USBE to aid in their independent reviews.”

“The video that has been shared online is incomplete and misleading,” said a Jordan School District spokesperson. “We do not teach Critical Race Theory in Jordan School District. We value parent participation in their child’s education and respect a parent’s right to opt out of classroom content.”

The Ogden School District sent a lengthy statement to 2News which reads:

Ogden School District is aware of the video produced by Accuracy in Media (AIM) and the associated “report” posted on their website on January 27, 2023 using the headline, “Utah educators detail using ‘loopholes’ to inject Critical Race Theory behind parents’ backs.”

Ogden School District categorically denies the insinuation that our educators actively attempt to deceive our parents for the purpose of indoctrinating students with Critical Race Theory (CRT).

"It is important that the full context of the video is known. Two individuals presented themselves as parents making the move to Utah from another state. The individuals did not disclose that they were recording the conversation and did not, at any time, announce their affiliation with AIM. The individuals engaged our administrator using leading statements and questions to produce comments from the administrator that were then presented without complete and accurate context.

AIM specifically references Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). Ogden School District supports students’ Social-Emotional Learning through teaching social skills at a Tier 1 level to all elementary school students. The curriculum that we use is Second Step, which is an evidence-based social skills curriculum. The curriculum teaches skills like problem solving, empathy, and identifying emotions. There is no aspect of our social skills curriculum that is related to Critical Race Theory.

Ogden School District welcomes any legitimate inquiry into our curriculum and the delivery of education in our classrooms. Parents are always encouraged to actively engage in the educational process of our students.

AIM is standing by the video.

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“We’ve never ever released an investigation and they say, ‘you caught us red handed,’” Guillette said. “Instead, they claim that you ‘deceived us.’ These are words from their own mouth. We think that’s about as honest as you can be.”

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