Last week, Gina Peddy, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, told teachers that if they keep books about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also keep books that offer an "opposing" view, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News.
Peddy made the comment Friday afternoon during a discussion regarding the books teachers are allowed in their classrooms. A staff member with the district secretly recorded the Friday session and shared the audio with the outlet.
Peddy is heard saying in the recording, "Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979, and make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing... that has other perspectives."
One teacher responded, saying, "How do you oppose the Holocaust?"
Peddy answered the question by saying, "Believe me, that’s come up."
Those who have called for the end to the Jewish state of Israel frequently try to delegitimize the Holocaust or claim it never even happened. In 2016, the Iranian regime denied the Holocaust occured on multiple occasions including in a video released on Holocaust Remembrance Day, in which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released a video titled “Holocaust: Are the Dark Ages Over?"
According to the Daily Mail, some schools have even dropped Holocaust education for fear of angering students whose families and beliefs deny that the mass slaughter of ten million people including six million Jews during World War II occurred.
Peddy has yet to respond to requests for a comment from NBC and various other media outlets on the matter. Karen Fitzgerald, the spokeswoman for the district, wrote that the district is only trying to help the teachers comply with the law, along with the new version that will be released this December. "Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements, 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 also noted that the teachers would not only have to provide such books during classroom time, but during the break times as well. She said that teachers who are unsure about putting a certain book in their classroom "should visit with their campus principal, campus team and curriculum coordinators about appropriate next steps."
Texas recently passed the law that requires teachers to always present multiple perspectives when they are discussing "widely debated and controversial issues." The law was designed to combat Critical Race Theory and political ideology being taught in the classroom.
Senator Bryan Hughes (R-TX) who wrote Senate Bill 3, which required teachers to also keep the opposing view, denied that the law requires teachers to provide both sides on a topic discussing what he called matters of "good and evil."
"That’s not what the bill says," Hughes said.
Six teachers from the district, including four who attended the session and heard Peddy’s comments, insisted that they remain anonymous out of fear for losing their jobs for publicly discussing the issue. One elementary school teacher said, "Teachers are literally afraid that we’re going to be punished for having books in our classes. There are no children’s books that show the 'opposing perspective' of the Holocaust or the 'opposing perspective' of slavery. Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?"
Just a few minutes before the incident, Peddy had stepped away from the session to call Courtney Carpenter, the Deputy Superintendent, following complaints from the teachers present about mixed messaging.
Peddy told the teachers to disregard earlier instructions that teacher should close their libraries in order to read through the books to ensure they met the new law and re-open them. According to Fitzgerald, the idea to use the Holocaust as an example for the topic did not come from Carpenter during the phone call.
The recording continued for a few minutes after the session ended and contained the comments of some teacher talking amongst themselves following the session. "I am offended as hell by somebody who says I should have an opposing view to the Holocaust in my library," one teacher said.
Another teacher replied, saying, "They don’t understand what they have done. And they are going to lose incredible teachers, myself potentially being with them."
UPDATE: On Saturday, Southlake Mayor John Huffman posted on Facebook to address the media firestorm around the controversial statements. "I know I speak for the entire Southlake community when I say that the idea that there could be two sides to the historical fact of the Holocaust is unthinkable."
"There simply aren't opposing viewpoints on the issue of condemning that monstrous evil, and I don't know anyone who thinks there are."
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