Last week, a top school administrator at a Texas school district told teachers that if they provide students with a book on the Holocaust, they should also provide an “opposing” perspective, audio of the directive obtained by NBC News first revealed Thursday.
Gina Peddy, the executive director of curriculum and instruction at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, made the remarks last Friday during a training session on classroom libraries. The training was held days after a fourth-grade teacher was reprimanded for keeping an “anti-racism” book in her classroom, prompting a parent to raise the alarm.
“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy is heard saying in the recording, referencing a new Texas law that requires teachers to provide multiple perspectives when teaching “widely debated and currently controversial” matters.
“And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives,” Peddy added.
“How do you oppose the Holocaust? What?!” one teacher asks, laughing uncomfortably.
“Believe me,” Peddy said. “That’s come up.”
Another teacher wonders aloud if “Number the Stars,” a historical fiction about a Jewish family in the Holocaust, needs to be removed from her classroom library. It is unclear if Peddy responded to the inquiry as uproarious discussion filled the room.
A staff member in the district secretly recorded the training session and provided NBC with the audio.
While Peddy did not respond to a request for comment, Carroll spokeswoman Karen Fitzgerald said the district is working to guide teachers under the new law.
“Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements,” Fitzgerald wrote “Our purpose is to support our teachers in ensuring they have all of the professional development, resources and materials needed. Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable.”
Fitzgerald noted that any teachers who are unsure about a book “should visit with their campus principal, campus team and curriculum coordinators about appropriate next steps.”
Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robinson said the guidelines at Carroll are an “overreaction” and a “misinterpretation” of the new law. Robinson’s assessment was supported by several other Texas education policy experts, according to NBC.
“We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history,” Robison said. “That’s absurd. It’s worse than absurd. And this law does not require it.”