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October 21, 2021 4:50 pm

Jewish Students, Parents Address Texas School Board After Directive to Teach ‘Opposing Views’ on Holocaust

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Southlake Town Square. Photo Credit: Steve Martin / Flickr

Jewish students and parents spoke at a Southlake, Texas school board meeting Monday, as it sat for the first time since a local administrator drew national controversy by advising teachers to present “opposing” views of the Holocaust.

The Carroll Independent School District (CISD) official was instructing teachers on how to apply House Bill 3979, a recent law passed amid the debate over the place of “critical race theory” and other issues in public school curricula.

“As you go through, just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979. And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing — that has other perspectives,” said Gina Peddy, CISD Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, as heard in recordings released by NBC News.

At Monday’s school board meeting, Holocaust survivor Rob Forst called Peddy’s comment “completely unacceptable.” Another Southlake Resident, Jake Berman, linked the incident to antisemitic bullying that had brought him near suicide in middle school, prompting his parents to pull him out of the district.

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“I received everything from jokes about my nose to gas chambers, all while studying for my bar mitzvah,” Berman said, in testimony shared by NBC News. “The facts are that there are not two sides of the Holocaust. The Nazis systematically killed millions of people. There are not two sides of slavery. White Europeans enslaved Black Africans in this country until June 19, 1865, a moment we’re barely 150 years removed from.”

Other Southlake residents told the board that Peddy simply misspoke during a conversation about a law few understand — which, according to its text, requires teachers to teach “widely debated” and “controversial” issues using multiple points of view.

“The administrator is not a Holocaust denier,” Katy Pratt said Monday, according to NBC. “She made a mistake under duress. The focus should be on the law, not the administrator.”

Another told a local outlet that Peddy was “caught off guard.”

“I’m Jewish, my children are Jewish, so my instant reaction was to be upset,” she said. “I think that she is the mouthpiece for the administration right now, and that she was caught off guard, and it wasn’t fair to her.”

Others demanded more accountability.

“I hope that you will consider not just a reprimand,” said one woman, “but firing that administrator who spoke like that because she does know better.”

On Oct. 14, after the controversy first broke, Carroll Independent School District Superintendent Lane Ledbetter said his district does “recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust.”

“I express my sincere apology regarding the only article and news story released today,” he wrote on the Carroll Independent School District Facebook page. “During the conversations with teachers during last week’s meeting, the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history. Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust.”

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