IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN JOINING A FAYETTE WATCHDOG GROUP IN YOUR COMMUNITY, contact the coordinator, Vicki Leopold. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Greater Fayette Republican Women’s Club facilitated a “Fayette Schools Watchdog Committee” organizational meeting at the Fayette County Republican Party Headquarters with over 60 concerned citizens discussing current issues surrounding our schools and school board including on June 8.
1. Thermal/Facial Recognition Cameras in Fayette Schools
2. School Board vote on Property Tax Abatement for the downtown Fayetteville Mixed-Use (retail / apartments) Meridian Development
3. Critical Race Theory State Legislation/School Board Resolutions
4. Health / Sex Ed Curriculum and Text book selection
5. Opt In Permission Forms
6. Board of Education 2022 elections
7. Next Board of Education Meeting
Email your school board members and let them know how you would like them to vote on these topics. CONTACT INFO
1. Thermal/Facial Recognition Cameras
Margaret Ross, a cyber security specialist, gave information on the thermal/facial recognition cameras installed in all Fayette schools in 2020 for the purpose of scanning the temperature
of all entering the school. The Fayette Community became aware recently that the cameras were purchased with ESPLOST funds for $500K from Hikvision, a Chinese Communist Party vendor blacklisted by U.S. Commerce Dept. in 2019. According to Ms. Ross, the Hikvision camera website clearly states that the company is owned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and operates under CCP laws. Most recently in March, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Hikvision and Dahua as companies posing a threat to U.S. national security. The system uses Active X which is easily hackable making it an extreme security risk. U.S. companies are required to apply for a special government license before they can do business with blacklisted companies. A question was raised at the meeting as to whether the purchase violated federal law.
The school board will be considering whether the cameras will be used in the upcoming 2021 school session. Ms. Ross recommended that the cameras be removed from the schools and that taxpayers should demand a full refund from the vendor based on not providing full disclosure on the products blacklisted manufacturer. Facial recognition cameras in our schools should never be acceptable.
2. School Tax Abatement-Meridian Apartments
The Fayetteville City Council negotiated with the Meridian Development Company to build a multi-use development (retail/apartments) on a vacant property in downtown Fayetteville. The approved project is dependent on a request by the developer for a 20-year tax abatement of property taxes including school property taxes. The Fayette School Board will be asked to approve the tax abatement before the project can move forward. CITIZEN NEWS STORY
3. Critical Race Theory: State Legislation/School Board Resolutions
Parents have shared that while the school board says that there is no CRT in the curriculum, their students are telling them about learning certain ideas in Fayette classrooms that align with CRT.
It is known that CRT is taught in Georgia’s university classrooms for many years, so many teachers may believe that this is appropriate teaching. The state standards say that teachers shall teach within the “context” of a subject. Many feel this “code word” is giving teachers the freedom to teach the ideas CRT during certain classes or special education weeks such as Black History Month.
Many Fayette teachers utilize a website for getting lesson plans called TeachersPayTeachers.com where there are hundreds of lesson plans teaching Critical Race Theory. And now we see CRT showing up in math courses!
So, in order to better clarify for Georgia’s teachers what ideas they can share in the classroom, Georgia’s state legislators are working on legislation to introduce in the regular session of the 2022 general assembly to ban the teaching of ideas associated with Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Model legislation we should look for can be found at the website of NoLeftTurn.us. Attendees of the meeting stated they would like to see the Georgia education standards altered to mandate the teaching of patriotic subjects such as “The 1776 Project.”
Some school boards in Georgia are passing resolutions prohibiting the teaching of ideas associated with CRT. A resolution passed by the Cobb County School Board is being reviewed to see if Fayette might pass something similar.
A policy being adopted by the school board to clearly state that teachers SHALL NOT use the ideas of CRT in their lessons (such as defining oppressors and oppressed) would be preferred. A policy adoption may be more feasible if state legislation can be passed into law.
MEANWHILE PARENTS STAY DILIGENT reviewing all your children's school work, homework assignments, special programs being presented, etc. If you suspect there could be an issue, contact the school administrator, the school superintendent, and the school board members with your concerns.
4. Health / Sex Ed Textbook Adoption for Fayette Schools
Jane Owens and Judi Wilson served on the textbook review board and were present at the meeting. Jane Owens reported that FCBOE has adopted “Choosing the Best” health /sex ed textbooks rather than textbooks that are part of the Comprehensive Sex Education which teaches how to have sexual activity “safely.” The “Choosing the Best” textbook series has been used in Fayette Schools for many years and focuses on abstinence only from unhealthy activities including sex, drugs, and smoking. EMAIL THE FAYETTE BOE AND THANK THEM FOR THIS ACTION
Attendee Dave Richardson worked with the state on their consideration of changing the health / sex ed state standards last year and reported that made the decision to stay with the abstinence only standards and included instruction on the dangers of online pornography.
5. OPT IN Permission Slips Should be County Policy for All Special Programs
OPT IN= ACTIVE PARENTAL CONSENT. Students are sent home with an opt in form with complete details of each program or activity as they are offered during the school year. The parent understanding exactly what permission is being given for and teachers collect Opt In forms to verify which students may participate. Fayette schools may send home a BLANKET permission form at the beginning of the school year, but several parents at the meeting expressed their dislike of that type of permission form because this does not give specific details on what they are giving permission to for their child's participation.
OPT OUT = PASSIVE PARENTAL CONSENT. Students are sent home an opt out form, but if the student doesn't give it to the parent, or the parent forgets to return it, the teacher assumes consent and the child will participate even if the parent may have preferred they didn't.
Just like school field trips that require an OPT IN form, all special programs should require and OPT IN permission form, rather than a very typical OPT OUT form, should received from the parents in order for the student to participate.
There are many special programs offered to our Fayette students which are outside of the regular classroom subjects. When these programs are made available, often times the student is sent home with an “OPT OUT” form for parents to return if they do not want their child participating. The problem is two fold. If the student never gives the form to the parent, or the parent forgets to return it in time, the student is then considered an automatic participant even if the parent might not want their child participating. Because this system is dependent on the student actually being responsible for making sure their parents get the information and the form, there can be a low rate of return. Parents report that when they do return an OPT OUT form, their child sometimes feel as if they are being punished if they are the only one not attending the special program.
Additionally, parents in attendance warned against the annual permission slip sent home at the start of the school year giving a blanket permission for the school to show their student any special film or attend special programs for the entire school year. They encourage parents to always demand a special OPT IN form with details of the movie to be shown or the special program being attended throughout the year.
6. School Board Elections – 2022
The 2022 elections will include
FCBOE District 2 currently held by Mr. Ray Rabold and District 4 currently held by Mr. Leonard Presburg whose terms will end Dec. 31, 2022. To determine which school district you live in click here for the map.
7. Upcoming School Board Meetings
The Board of Education typically meets the 4th Monday of every month with meetings beginning at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be Monday, July 26. Attendance was encouraged! If you would like to sign up to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting, you should arrive no later than 6:30 p.m. We understand that this meeting will include a presentation and vote on the Meridian Project Tax Abatement. Please plan to attend and sign in for public speaking, please arrive early.