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School Board Reverses Reprimand of Teacher for Anti-Racist Book

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Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

Rickie Farah, a 4th grade teacher in Texas, was voted the school’s Teacher of the Year in 2021. That same year, a student took home a book from her classroom library called This Book Is Anti-Racist, by Tiffany Jewell. The student’s parent, Sarah Muns, objected to the book and posted about it on social media. Though Farah agreed to stop carrying the title, Muns didn’t think this was enough, and claimed Farah “bullied” her daughter for taking the book without asking.

Muns first took her complaint to administrators, who found that Farah had not broken any regulations and found no reason to discipline her. The school board, though, went against this decision, voting 3-2 to reprimand her. One of the board members to vote against this decision said,

I would like to let the teachers know, if you are worried about teaching in this school district, that you should watch this vote. I want you to know that you are right to be worried.

Teachers were, in fact, worried. Soon after, teachers in the district were told to close off their classroom libraries until each of the books could be vetted to ensure that none could offend a parent. Some teachers put caution tape over their classroom libraries and signs reading, “You can’t read any of the books on my shelves.

It continued to spiral, eventually reaching national news when the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction of the district advised teachers that if they stocked books on the Holocaust in their classroom, they should be sure to also have books with “opposing views.”

During this time, Farah continued to fight the accusation, and she filed her own grievance against the board, saying it had broken state law by reprimanding her. In late January, she sat in front of the school board again. All of the parents and teachers who spoke at the meeting defended her, though the 8 am start time kept many more from attending.

Rickie Farah with her class

One parent called the accusations against Farah “grotesquely false” and said, “She stands for love and being brave, accountability and doing the right thing, even when it is hard.” Another said, “She’s the best teacher my son ever had.”

At this point, campaign finance records had surfaced that showed several board members has received financial donations from Sarah Muns.

The school board unanimously voted to overturn their previous decision to reprimand Farah, saying, “The board of trustees acknowledges that under Education Code section 11. 202 B4 the campus principal is responsible for any discipline at the campus level.”

Farah signed an agreement to withdraw her grievance. The document also outlines that she cannot make any public statement about the grievance from now on, other than to say: “Mrs. Farah is pleased with the outcome and grateful it is resolved. She loves this community and her students and looks forward to continued success in the classroom.”

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