Virginia county’s town hall on racial justice lacks support

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

It sounds as if a county commission has gone rogue in the D.C. metropolitan area.

In Prince William County, located about 30 miles southwest of the nation’s capital, three county commissioners of the Racial and Social Justice Commission held a town hall about Critical Race Theory and “culturally-responsive teaching,” reported Inside Nova.

Commissioners Charles Haddow, London Steverson, and Erica Tredinnick held the meeting at Patriot High School in Nokesville, Virginia, and the public meeting did not receive the full approval of the commission.

Haddow, a white male, was appointed by the county’s Republican-majority board of supervisors. He and the commission have not seen eye-to-eye when he once referred to several black commission members as a “Gang of Four.” The offended commissioners claimed he was being racially insensitive, and Haddow said that he was referring to the 2007 “Gang of Eight” U.S. Senators. Commission chair Shantell Rock said, “He is a Caucasian man calling four people of color a gang. That’s unacceptable.”

The local news outlet said that a flyer promoting the meeting asked residents to attend and discuss Critical Race Theory and culturally-responsive teaching, among other local issues. Haddow, in a previous commission meeting, said that they would hold a town hall, but he did not mention that Critical Race Theory would be the topic.

At the September 23 meeting, he said, “We invite the community to come – any voiceless person who feels like they haven’t been heard yet – we invite them to participate. It will be a sincere listening session to talk and have a clear opportunity – I’m not really too interested in hearing some of the narrative I heard at the last meeting,” Haddow added, “I think this will hopefully be a reasonable discussion about areas in our community that we can improve on the quality of life here.”

The message was met with a conflicting news release by Rock, who said, “The Commission is not responsible for promoting, reviewing, or discussing Critical Race Theory.” Rock criticized the meeting and topic, “This conversation is separate from the mission of the Racial and Social Justice Commission, and therefore, this is not a conversation sanctioned by the Commission.” The release stated, “The Commission encourages all Commissioners to conduct town hall meetings to discuss with constituents their experience in education as it relates to the school system’s policies impacting children of color.” To distance the commission from the unsanctioned meeting, Rock also said that Critical Race Theory is not being taught in the county’s public schools.

Meanwhile, Prince Williams County’s northern neighbor, Loudoun County, is embroiled in a contentious fight between its school board and vocal parents. The school board adopted policies on gender pronoun use, which led to at least one contentious board meeting that was adjourned earlier due to shouting by several attendees. Adding to that, Loudoun County’s public school system suspended a teacher, Tanner Cross, who commented at a board meeting that he could not comply with the gender pronoun policy as a devout Christian man. Cross has since been reinstated, although the county public school system said it will fight the case all the way to the state’s Supreme Court.