Commissioner Smith Questions School Board Chair, Superintendent About Critical Race Theory Policy

Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) Board Chairman Todd Sutton says a Policy Review Committee will discuss a policy banning Critical Race Theory (CRT) from being taught in classrooms made no promises it would be adopted.

Sutton made the comments Monday night during a Johnston County Board of Commissioners budget meeting. Commissioners were holding a public hearing on their proposed 2021-2022 budget. Local school officials including Chairman Sutton, Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy and Chief Financial Officer Stephen Britt appeared to reiterate their request for $79.5 million in funding from the County this year.

Commissioner Fred Smith, who stated in a June 7th meeting, he would not vote to increase funding to JCPS unless they had a policy in place banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory, took the opportunity to ask the school board chairman and superintendent their stance on CRT.

“I believe Johnston County Schools exist to educate our children, not to indoctrinate our children. Critical Race Theory teaches kids to hate our country and to hate each other and I don’t believe it has any place in Johnston County Schools. It’s state sanctioned racism and I hope that you can assure me that the Johnston County School Board has a policy prohibiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory in our school system,” Commissioner Smith stated.

“I am not aware of a policy, but we don’t, we teach the standards,” Superintendent Dr. Bracy responded.

“Well if you don’t teach it then it will be very easy for the school board to assure our citizens by adopting a policy that you don’t teach it. It will be a very simple, easy thing to do,” Smith replied.

“Well that’s a conversation Mr. Stewart can have with Mr. Sutton… but as far as Critical Race Theory being taught in Johnston County Public Schools I am not aware of it happening and if anybody has any evidence of it happening let me know and I will have a conversation with that principal,” Dr. Bracy said.

“Would you be opposed to recommending that the board adopt a policy to assure our citizens that it will not be taught in our schools?,” Commissioner Smith asked Dr. Bracy.

“I will have a conversation with the board anytime they want to about Critical Race Theory but I will say again, I am not aware of it being taught in the school system, and I’m in a lot of schools and talk with a lot of principals and teachers all the time. What we believe in Johnston County Public Schools is teaching the standards and the standards are what we get from DPI, the Department of Public Instruction. That’s what our teachers, that’s my expectation of our teachers to be teaching the standards. I have heard comments about it being taught in the schools. I am not aware of it being taught in our schools,” Dr. Bracy said.

“Well I just want you to know, I am not going to vote to increase your funding until the Board of Education adopts a policy to assure our citizens that the indoctrination of things against our country and against each other, until the board of education adopts a policy against that being taught in our schools,” Smith replied.

Commission Board Chairman Chad Stewart said, “I do agree with Commissioner Smith, and Mr. Sutton knows where I stand, and I spoke with some groups this week and it was a hot topic… My position is I’m not going to tolerate it either but from a funding standpoint I’m not going to let our teachers, bus drivers, students go unfunded because of a policy being adopted or not…”

Stewart added the county budget would likely be adopted on Monday, June 21st and there wouldn’t be enough time for the school board to write and adopt a CRT policy prior to next week’s meeting. But Stewart said there is always the 2022-2023 budget

“I don’t know what authority we have as a board with conditional funding but I am going to trust the school board and you (Dr. Bracy), and I’m speaking for myself, there has to be a budget next year and it might not look the same if we’re not staying the course we are staying,” Stewart stated.

Commissioner Smith said, “This is not a discussion question. This is a yes or no question. And the question is, yes or no. Does the school board have a policy to not allow teaching of Critical Race Theory? The citizens of this county are entitled to an answer to that question.”

School chairman Sutton replied, “To answer your question, at this point in time no. Critical Race Theory came up in I believe in January at the state board of education when they voted 5-to-2. At the present time we are not going to educate our kids on it. I agree with you, as I told Chairman Stewart, i think it is politically polarizing to have such a theory. We do not have a policy at this time, however, I’d be more than happy to share this with our chair of the policy committee to get more comments from Mrs. (Terri) Sessoms and her group as far as this goes.”

Smith responded, “First things first. If you don’t have time to adopt such a policy, I would like to have at least a commitment that you will take it up and have a vote on it because the citizens of this county are entitled to know the answer to that question.”

Sutton stated, “Like I said Mr. Smith I will be glad to talk with Mrs. Sessoms who is the chair of the policy committee – there is four on that committee – and discuss this with the entire board and consider this, but my question to you, if I am hearing this correctly, would you fund our school system at $79 million if this policy is adopted?”

Commissioner Smith said, “I am not prepared to answer that question, but I am prepared to say that if we don’t have something I’m not going to vote to increase it at all… but I’m not seeing any movement from you or Dr. Bracy from a general nonsense statement that something is or is not happening, not taking a firm stance. This is an issue we need to take a firm stance for our country.”

Mr. Sutton said, “I agree with you but at the present time it is not being taught in Johnston County Public Schools.”

Smith replied, “Then if it’s not being taught it should be very, very easy to adopt a policy to affirm that situation.”

Commissioner Larry Wood then asked Dr. Bracy about the failing public schools in the county and the superintendents promise to have all schools with a passing grade in three years. “Mr. Bracy, you’ve got 2023-2024, a hundred percent of Johnston County Public Schools will earn a school letter grade of A, B, or C. And right know, I think Mr. Stewart mentioned earlier, 15 of the 45 are subject to be, how close are they to be taken over by the state?

Dr. Bracy replied, “I am not aware of us being taken over by the state.”

Commissioner Wood said, “Maybe I am confused about that then. Well let me ask you, my question is, its 2021. What can we expect from our school system in 2022?”

Dr. Bracy responded, “To improve itself academically. That’s our goal. And had it not been for the pandemic we would have been further along…”

Prior to the end of the discussions, Chairman Sutton readdressed Commissioner Smith’s CRT concerns. “Mr. Smith I don’t believe this needs to be taught in Johnston County Public Schools or any other system in this nation. Let me just say that. My commitment is, we will discuss this further, but like Chairman Stewart says it can circumvent in a lot of different ways and a lot of different names and so forth. But Johnston County Public Schools is not teaching Critical Race Theory period.”

Sutton said he would take Commissioner Smith’s Critical Race Theory concerns to the policy review committee immediately. Typically it takes 60 days, or two board meetings, to adopt a new policy. Sutton said he could potentially expedite the process to 30 days. There was no commitment from Sutton or Dr. Bracy the JCPS Board would adopt the policy, only to discuss it.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Once again, our County Commissioners creating problems where none exist…. Bracy was asked multiple times about CRT and state clearly each time, that it is not being taught in JoCo school system. Instead, Smith & company freely give $MILLIONS to JCCC, where CRT and other race-based issues are discussed and students are expected to think critically. Let the commissioners focus their attention THERE.

    • There is a problem!!! Don’t be fooled by Bracy and Sutton’s’ comments. You noticed that they avoided making a statement about CRT would not be taught in the future in JoCo. They said over and over that it is not being taught in JCPS… now! Bracy & Sutton will say anything the commissioners want to hear so they can get funding… but they will not take a stand and say that CRT will never be taught in JoCo. People…. listen to me…. FIND A PRIVATE SCHOOL AND PUT YOUR KIDS IN THERE ASAP!!! I work in this system… and it is broken. Do not fall for the B.S. the JCPS tells you.

      • If you have lost all faith and belief in JCPS then you should transfer to another system/school or retire. Suggesting simply transferring all students to private schools is a joke. The problems don’t go away and less oversight and regulation will only disadvantage the less affluent and hard working people of JoCo.

        • I have lost faith in public education in general, not just JCPS. I am counting down the days until I can retire. Until then, I will work as hard as I can to teach my students. I do suggest any parent that has academically gifted students to do everything they can to provide a better education for their child. Public education spends the majority of its resources on ELA, MTSS, special education students.

      • You hit this on the head. The way you can tell they are begging out is that they are diflecting to “the standards”. They are too afraid and weak to set up our own standard, all they are going to do when the state puts them in the “standards” is say their hands are tied because the teaching of racism is now embedded into the “standards”. Classic double speak by the useless administrators.

      • CRT has no place in our schools, anywhere in America! It breeds hate and racism.
        Mr. Smith was trying to get the school board to commit to adopt a policy, but they’re to chicken to do it. Typical politicians. They don’t have the b… to stand for something like Smith!

  2. Commissioner Smith, thanks for being a worthy objector who is intolerant of CRT or anything like it. The people are behind you and we all need to stand up to this racist notion and foolishness.

  3. Useless grandstanding from Smith. How many times does he have to be told that the school system doesn’t teach CRT and how selfish and self serving is it to try and hold up funding because of it?

  4. It’s as if some people are shocked 😲 at Commissioner Smith for doing what we elected him to do. We elected him to challenge these insidious left wing progressive ideologies that sadly even some RINOs have snuggled to. 🤔 What a concept?

    We could use more county commissioners with Commissioner Smith’s tenacity and foresight.

    Get em’ Commissioner Smith. 🇺🇲

  5. If Critical Race Theory is not being taught then why is it so hard to get a policy in place to say that. It appears that there might be something more happening. Before Covid19 we had a huge budget shortfall but quickly seemed to disappeared with no accountability to the public who pays the taxes. These positions are spending tax dollars and need to be held accountable to the tax payers.

  6. Voters NEED to question school board candidates before election and NOT vote blindly by name alone. CRT is the antithesis of productive educational system….it is socialist disinformation.
    Take back our local government, VOTE wisely.
    Demand JCPS establish a solid policy of non-descrimination.

  7. A lot of fragile white egos melting like snowflakes in here. If your biggest worry is that a school might teach kids about systemic racism, you really do live in a great country, and you ought to appreciate it more.

    • We worry about a socialist disruption of our society by inserting issues that will divide the races and cause turmoil. CRT is the black apartheid movement in America. Opportunity exists on levels in the US that other countries of the world can only dream about. CRT is one of the many efforts by socialists to divide.

    • Using liberal catch phrases like “white fragility” easily identifies you as the type of person who advocates for child genital mutilation all in the name of conceptual biology.

      Stay in your lane, not everyone who comments on JOCOREPORT is white and not all black Americans support the overtly racist CRT.

      Anyone who supports CRT doesn’t understand what CRT is espousing. But, since logic is racist according to CRT, you’ll fit right in😉.

      I’ll lay it out like this, if Americans expect whites to call out and ostracize the racists in their ranks, Americans should expect every other race to do the same with their own ranks. The “people” pushing CRT are among the most racist and cancerous clumps of cells to have ever walked this earth.

    • It is definitley a valid worry when they are dead set on teaching about something that does not exist in today’s United States.

    • Are you crazy! If that’s what you think CTR is about, you need to wake up! It teaches that my white child has to get up in front of the classroom and apologize for being white and what their ancestors did to minorities. And if they don’t they get punished and I get called in to explain why my child is unruly! That’s CTR!

  8. Joco teaches the standards. DpI endorses and promotes the CRT curriculum even if it isn’t called that. They make the teachers take special training. I say withhold most funding for the school system until a policy is in place to teach the equivalent of the 1776 project. Get rid of all the equity and diversity offices. What is their job, anyway.?

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