By Chrissy Clark
A Virginia high school requested programming from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that reportedly separates students in “homogenous” groups and does not allow parents to attend, according to a parent familiar with the matter.
Fairfax High School is slated to host the DOJ’s School-Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (SPIRIT) program on Monday, May 16, and Tuesday, May 17, according to a Fairfax County parent. The program is run by the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service (CRS), which is available to state and local officials “to help resolve and prevent racial and ethnic conflict, violence and civil disorder.”
Day one of the DOJ’s programming allegedly places students in “separate homogeneous breakout groups” wherein they “have uncomfortable conversations about tensions in the school,” according to an advocacy group that reported on the program at an Alaska high school. In an example listed on the DOJ’s website, student participants in Anchorage were divided into five groups to identify the school’s strengths and areas on concerns, including the alleged “widespread use” of racial and ethnic slurs.
On the second day of School-SPIRIT programming, students meet in “heterogeneous” breakout groups and brainstorm solutions to tensions in the school. The program then introduces the “SPIRIT Student Advisory Team,” which must meet with the school’s principal “at least on a monthly basis,” according to the report.
A Fairfax mother, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution against her child, told the Daily Caller that she feared the Student Advisory Team may go after students who don’t subscribe to the ideology of the student board. She also claimed that the “general parent population” was not notified in written form about the programming.
The same mother insisted that the high school allow her to attend the Monday and Tuesday event. Acting Principal Maureen Keck told the mother that the program information was shared with students on Friday, May 6, and is optional. Keck said the program is “student centered” and not open to parents, according to email correspondence.
Keck referred the concerned parent to the DOJ’s website, which includes six examples of School-SPIRIT programs rolled out nationwide. Several examples claim that programming was conducted directly by DOJ CRS employees and the majority discuss issues of alleged racism in public schools. In Alaska, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska attended the program to “observe and assist,” according to the DOJ’s website.
The program, whether conducted via consulting with the federal agency or conducted by a federal employee, is “free as a public service,” according to the department’s website. Fairfax High School’s acting principal did not respond to the Daily Caller’s inquiry into whether the school was conducting the programming or a federal employee.
According to the Justice Department, the CRS was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and is dedicated to “preventing and resolving racial and ethnic tensions, incidents, and civil disorders.” The department has regional and field offices placed all over the country.
Nicki Neily, the president and founder of the concerned parent group Parents Defending Education, told the Daily Caller that it is “tragic” that a service designed to end racial segregation would potentially promote it in programming.
“When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he said, ‘Let us close the springs of racial poison,’” Neily said. “It’s tragic that 58 years later, the ‘springs of racial poison’ have returned — but this time, it is at the federal government’s behest.”
“When school-sponsored programs like this separate students on the basis of immutable characteristics, it gives students the misimpression that doing so is acceptable — and it is not,” Neily continued. “Parents do not want the seeds of racial division planted in their children’s heads by anyone — much less from a taxpayer-funded institution.”
The U.S. Department of Justice and Fairfax County Public Schools did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.