Last month, Fox News reported on a diversity training in which an Oregon teacher suggested that colleagues needed to “evolve” with so-called “anti-racist” ideas or “dissolve.”
Although a spokesperson previously said the teacher didn’t speak for that particular district, leaked audio seems to show that the superintendent similarly issued an implied threat to teachers.
“I’m here to support you in any way and I’m at your convenience. But I do want you to know and I do want the message to get out there that this [anti-racism training] isn’t optional anymore,” said Beaverton Superintendent Don Grotting.
“We’ve waited for the willing, and if you’re not willing, maybe this isn’t the right place for you to work. I’ll just put it like that – maybe we can free up your future, because if we’re going to become an anti-racist school district, it can’t just be a few people, it’s got to be everybody, to include our staff, to include our students, and our community, eventually everyone.”
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Fox News hasn’t confirmed the date and time of the recording but the Daily Wire recently noted that it occurred during an equity committee meeting on Jan. 28. It’s unclear what prompted Watkins’ comments, but if the Jan. 28 date is accurate, that would mean Grotting made those remarks just before the teacher, Katherine Watkins, indicated a similar threat in February’s training.
Regardless, Beaverton spokesperson Shellie Bailey-Shah previously distanced the administration from Watkins.
“Katherine Watkins does not speak for the Beaverton School District,” said spokesperson Shellie Bailey-Shah.
“All disciplinary or dismissal procedures are governed by state statute and our collective bargaining agreements with our unions, Beaverton Education Association (BEA) and Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA).”
But in an email obtained by Fox News Monday, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) defended Grotting’s comments as an appropriate way to share expectations for district employees.
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“[I]t is appropriate for a superintendent to share expectations for staff training and professional development,” said ODE Director Colt Gill. “I do not see this as unethical behavior on the part of Superintendent Grotting.”
His comments came in response to an email from Jeanette Schade, a former school board candidate who railed against Grotting’s behavior. Schade claims to have obtained the audio through anonymous source.
“Mr Grotting’s threats to teachers is unethical and should be dealt with swiftly,” Schade said in an email addressed to Grotting, Gill, and others.
“The teachers who threatened other teachers from the [anti-racist] training got that idea straight from Mr. Grotting who wants to perpetuate [critical race theory] and force feed it to people who do not want it. That is wrong, unethical, and down right disgusting! Don Grotting, you need to resign immediately. School Board members, you need to fire him if he doesn’t. Mr Gill, you have an ethics issue in one of the largest school districts in the state.”
Bailey-Shah declined to comment on the apparent discrepancy between her comments and Gill’s. ODE did not respond to Fox News’ inquiry about potential disciplining of teachers.
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Multiple Beaverton teachers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Fox News they felt fear and intimidation surrounding the issue. The pressure prompted teachers in the district to feel like they needed to communicate in secret.
Apparent retaliation has been witnessed in other states across the country.
The Daily Wire previously reported on how the leader of the district’s Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC) proposed punishing teachers if they criticize equity trainings.
“That simply cannot and should not be tolerated by anyone employed by LCPS!” MSAAC Chair Keira Jennings reportedly wrote. She then appeared to call for teachers to be dismissed if they did not fully embrace diversity training.
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A Manhattan-based teacher notably was relieved of his teaching duties after he openly criticized the his school’s anti-racist curricula.
Over the past few months, media reports have emerged about the propagation of so-called “anti-racist” teachings, which many critics have described as a form of “neo-racism” as they generalize on the basis of race. In audio released by Rossi, his employer appeared to admit the school’s curricula demonized White people.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.