Parents and community members primarily opposing the Carson City School District’s position on face masks and expressing concerns over its recent conversation on its strategic plan and treatment of the concept of “equity” provided more than an hour of public comment during Tuesday night’s regular Board of Trustees meeting.
The school district released two statements regarding each issue, with Superintendent Richard Stokes reading each during his report in advance of the time for public comment. In regards to the facemasks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that schools continue prevention strategies for the remainder of this school year and noting that Carson City Health and Human Services also supports the CDC’s recommendations. As such, the Carson City School District would stay on track and use masks and social distancing as appropriate by age category, Stokes read.
Angela Dean, a mother with a senior graduating from Carson High School, said wearing masks is ineffective and creates a “false sense of security” and makes it hard for children to concentrate in school.
“The World Health Organization states there’s no evidence wearing a mask by a healthy person in a community setting can prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 and further concluded that universal community masking is ineffective at preventing infection,” Dean said.
The second statement addressing the CCSD’s strategic plan referred to the May 4 professional learning community meeting during which the word “equity” had been used in a document, “Critical Race Theory,” by Christopher Rufo. The meeting originally had been called to continue the district’s efforts to refresh, or update, its strategic plan, but participants shared their worries about equitable or sufficient resources for all students to be successful, that the terms “equity” or “equality” were loaded or were politically controversial.
“It has never been the practice nor the intent of Carson City School District to promote the Critical Race Theory or any other single political ideology over another,” Stokes read from the statement Tuesday.
The conversations created frustrations, and the district’s statement released Tuesday said the goal of the PLC meetings with community members and school employees is intended to make modifications to and update the strategic plan to be in place through 2027.
Bepsy Strasburg, Carson City resident, stating she has reviewed goal two of the district’s strategic plan covering “Curriculum that Matters,” suggested deleting any mention of “equity.”
“I think we can simply delete the word and provide all students with an opportunity to learn and bring that in line with the school district’s and state’s policy not to discriminate, as well as the mission which says that in partnership with the community, we can make the most for every student,” Strasburg said.
Robert Harris, a parent of three with two currently enrolled in the district, addressed the equity rating and raised concerns about defining disadvantaged students as students from racial, ethnic or socioeconomic groups that have persistent gaps across schools and outcomes across the state, he said.
“Children should not be told what to think but how to think for themselves," he said. "Parents and teachers are supposed to work together for the betterment of the child. Both should be advocates for the child's socialistic growth.”
Community members at the end were invited to submit comments if they did not have an opportunity to do so during the meeting, Board President Joe Cacioppo said.
“We do take this seriously, so whether you agree with us or think you agree or disagree with us, we do thank you for your comments,” Cacioppo said.
A copy of the district’s strategic plan can be found on www.carsoncityschools.com.