Utah charter school backtracks over optional Black History Month lessons after NAACP pressure

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A charter school in Utah is reneging on its initial decision to let parents opt their children out of Black History Month curriculum.

Michah Hirokawa, who serves as director at the Maria Montessori Academy in North Ogden, announced the decision on Friday, the Standard-Examiner reported. It’s unclear what the curriculum entailed and Hirokawa indicated that those families had since been more open to their children experiencing the curriculum.

“We regret that after receiving requests, an opt-out form was sent out concerning activities planned during this month of celebration,” Hirokawa said in a Saturday afternoon statement later emailed to Fox News.

“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. In the future, we will handle all parental concerns on an individual basis.  We are excited to celebrate the rich content of Black History Month at our school.”

According to USA Today, the Ogden Branch of the NAACP contacted the school on Saturday.

“Authentically teaching Black History as American History allows our youth to develop the social and emotional skills necessary to be inclusive of others and cultivates a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race,” Betty Sawyer, president of the NAACP’s Ogden branch, said, according to the outlet.

“While this decision was recently reversed, we find its very consideration troubling.”

The incident came amid a wave of backlash to racialized trainingsin the wake of George Floyd’s death last year.

It’s unclear what sparked the parents’ initial concern and Hirokawa declined to provide that information, citing a desire to keep the parent’s reasons private. 

He told Fox News that the school wasn’t doing anything outside of Utah’s social study standards. When asked for more specific information, Hirokawa said the curriculum was “different depending on the age group” and would “have a Montessori approach to teaching.”

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