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Backlash stalled Douglas County School District’s plans to conduct diversity and equity training, records show

The Gemini Group, a consulting firm based in Denver, became a lightning rod in April and May as some community members argued their trainings were evidence the district was teaching critical race theory

Scenes of Castle Rock, CO, October 30, 2020. (Kevin Mohatt, Special to The Colorado Sun)

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. The Colorado Sun is an owner of CCM.

Plans between Douglas County School District and a consulting firm hired to conduct diversity and equity training crumbled last school year after backlash toward the group’s work mounted, records show.

Now the district is preparing to continue equity work in 2021-22, but district leadership said DCSD is not ready to release details.

“We heard and reflected on the concerns raised and have decided to slow down and regroup on Educational Equity and Inclusive Excellence in DCSD,” district spokeswoman Paula Hans said in an emailed statement.

The Gemini Group, a consulting firm based in Denver, became a lightning rod in April and May as some community members argued their trainings were evidence the district was teaching the much-discussed academic concept of critical race theory after adopting an equity policy.

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The district has repeatedy denied that it teaches critical race theory to its students.

Nevertheless, the controversy culminated when Superintendent Corey Wise abruptly canceled a staff summit scheduled with The Gemini Group for May 26 and May 27.

In a letter rebuking the move, Gemini Group founders Dante and Christina James said Wise notified them in an email sent at 12:37 a.m. on May 26. A fraught school board meeting where critical race theory debates had reached a boiling point ended late in the night of May 25.

The consultants’ letter, dated May 26 and addressed to Wise, expressed concern about what message the cancellation would send and fired back at accusations made during school board public comment, in which critics called their trainings anti-white and harmful for white students.

The firm had conducted workshops for roughly 900 district staff in April, which they said were overwhelmingly well-received.

“Finally, allowing a handful of vocal White parents out of the thousands of parents in your district to dictate how to help educators become aware of, and address, detrimental impacts on children of color in this country and in DCSD, by demanding we not talk about race, is naïve at best, or a conscious, willful attempt to maintain the status quo of ignorance, bias, and inequitable outcomes at worst,” Dante and Christina James wrote.

Read more at coloradocommunitymedia.com.


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