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State Rep. Randy Fine and conservative moms say Brevard schools teach critical race theory



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Florida Rep. Randy Fine and a conservative parent’s group accused Brevard Public Schools Friday of teaching staff critical race theory and seeking to make the controversial study of race and power part of the curriculum of Space Coast classrooms. 

Joined by Anne Ryan, a former Brevard Public School community education coordinator, and Moms for Liberty, a national conservative parents group, Fine presented screenshots of internal communications between school staff regarding education surrounding racism.

The screenshots showed slides of a text describing how race needs to be considered when disciplining students, and presented a quote about the presence of racism in institutional policies. 

Some of the screenshots were taken from a diversity training program aimed at helping educators better understand their students and improve communication between staff and pupils.

Brevard Public School Board officials said the screenshots were taken out of context and did not reflect any kind of plan to teach students critical race theory.

Critical race theory is an academic framework which studies the links between race and power, examining the way in which racism impacts law and social structures.

The discipline has become a hot button topic for conservatives, who say that teaching students about implicit bias and systematic disadvantages faced by people of color feeds anti-white sentiment. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called critical race theory a way to teach “kids to hate their country and to hate each other.”

“Critical race theory is racist,” Fine said. “Martin Luther King (Jr.) said that we look at people because of who they are, the content of their character. You don’t look at someone who’s white and make conclusions about them because of it. You don’t look at someone who’s Black and make conclusions because of it.”

State Rep. Randy Fine, standing with Ashley Hall, Brevard chair for Moms for Liberty, held a press conference in Palm Bay Friday morning with documentation claiming that Critical Race is being taught to administrators and teachers to implement.

The accusations presented at the press conference followed a June 10 ruling by the Florida Board of Education, which forbid Florida teachers from “indoctrinating” students and placed an emphasis on patriotism and the U.S. Constitution.

Critical race theory has never been discussed in Brevard classrooms, according to the county School District, so the ruling won’t change how educators teach in Brevard, according to district officials.

“We understand the state board rule, and we weren’t pursuing critical race theory before the state board rule,” said Mark Mullins, the Brevard School district superintendent. “We certainly uphold both the practice and the spirit of the state school board rule to not teach critical race theory in our classrooms.”

All teachings — whether regarding history, racism or any other topic — come from state-approved textbooks, Mullins said. 

While the district was adamant that critical race theory has never been taught within the classroom, Fine and the Moms for Liberty raised concerns about the board “indoctrinating” educators who would then go on to indoctrinate children.

“Hitler didn’t create the Hitler Youth directly,” Fine said. “He brainwashed the parents. He brainwashed the adults first, and they created the Hitler Youth. The way that you indoctrinate our children is by indoctrinating those who teach our children.”

Ryan, who resigned from her position in April, said she attended training sessions — or what she called “programming session” — regarding racism that made her uncomfortable. When she told her supervisor she wanted to be exempt from these sessions, she said she was reprimanded, which prompted her to resign. 

The training Ryan went through was never called critical race theory training, she said, but she believed that was what it reflected. She added that she believes critical race theory is rooted in Marxism, an ideology that uses a materialist view of historical events to interpret social conflicts and changes.

“When I found this out, I was even more floored, which led to me resigning,” she said.

Anna Ryan,  a program coordinator for Brevard County schools, quit her job because the training she was taking made her uncomfortable and went against her beliefs. State Rep. Randy Fine, flanked by members of  Moms for Liberty, held a press conference in Palm Bay Friday morningThe groups showed   documentation claiming that Critical Race is being taught to administrators and teachers.

Fine also showed emails between two staff members discussing privilege at Palm Bay High School and Satellite Beach High School. The emails discussed combatting racism, and one staff member said principals at more “privileged” schools may struggle. The other staff member said ending racism “lies in the hands of privilege.” They added that there is “more racism” at Satellite High School than at Palm Bay High School.

“We have senior executives at Brevard Public Schools claiming that some of our schools — Satellite High, because it’s a ‘privileged’ beachside school — has a racism problem,” Fine said. He added that he wanted to “know what data actually suggests that is the case.”

Fine and Moms for Liberty also criticized the creation of the Director of Equity and Diversity position as a waste of money during the COVID-19 pandemic. The position was created in July 2020, and the district hired Danielle McKinnon in October of the same year. 

Tina Descovich, the cofounder of Moms for Liberty in Brevard, served on the school board at the time of the creation of this position. The vote to create the position was unanimous.

“I had no concerns at the time,” Descovich said. “We were just coming off of the George Floyd incident, and Dr. Mullins presented us with her name, and I supported her.”

While Descovich was not involved with the information gathered and presented at Friday’s press conference, she said she is “starting to have concerns about where the direction of the district is going with this issue.”

McKinnon’s position has been useful in determining what areas the school district can improve and provide more assistance to both school, faculty and staff, said Misty Belford of the school board.

“She is looking at inclusion across the board,” Belford said.

While McKinnon has helped the district determine the needs of the district, Belford said her role has been “primarily listening” in regards to students and the instruction is left to “people who are in the classroom.”

More:Melbourne group talks race, reconciliation over brisket, beans, whiskey and apple pie

More:What is critical race theory, and why do Republicans oppose teaching it in schools?

Florida Rep. Rene Plasencia, a former history teacher of 15 years, said the district’s actions have been “absolute appropriate for the needs of the district” and have been “in the best interest of the children.”

“In order to be effective as a teacher, you have to understand who it is you’re teaching,” he said. “They’re not trying to indoctrinate anyone, they’re trying to understand how to be more effective educators for the children they’re educating so that those children can have an equal opportunity.”

He went on to say that while everyone is different, there are important factors to examine such as generational poverty and their effects on students. Looking at aspects of a student that could add outside stressors that impact their education “isn’t racist at all” and based on “data-driven initiatives for greater outcomes,” he said.

“Anyone who studies cultures, subcultures, history — there’s a strong correlation between education outcomes and history and generational poverty or generational oppression,” he said. By looking at data and adapting to meet each child’s needs, educators can hope to help children achieve better education outcomes, he said.

This wasn’t the first time Fine and Mom’s for Liberty criticized the Brevard Public School Board. Previous conflicts this year include backlash from both the group and Fine at the district’s guidelines regarding the accommodations for LGBTQ students in March.

Fine sponsored a bill signed into law in May to expand school choice vouchers, allowing tens of thousands of students to attend private schools with taxpayer dollars paying tuition.

He cosponsored a bill signed June 1 that will require athletes at public schools and universities to compete according to the sex documented on their birth certificate and not their gender identity.

Contact Walker at, 321-290-4744 or on Twitter @_emilylwalker. Support their work by subscribing to  

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