A Texas law firm allegedly advised school administrators at a conference in Dallas this month on how to sidestep a state law that bans a specific critical race theory curriculum.
Attorneys for Thompson & Horton LLP gave a presentation to educators at the Texas Association of School Boards conference. The presentation included comments about SB 3, according to video footage captured by an undercover team with Accuracy in Media (AIM), a news media watchdog, Fox News reported.
SB 3 bans teachers from promoting critical race theory (CRT), including the 1619 Project — a purportedly CRT-informed curriculum established in 2019 by New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones.
“So, Senate Bill 3 does prohibit a teacher or school district from requiring an understanding of the 1619 Project,” said Ashley White, senior associate at Thompson & Horton, per Fox News. “However, it doesn’t prohibit a student from choosing to do an assignment on the 1619 Project; it doesn’t prohibit the teacher from having the 1619 Project among a number of other books that the students could select from related to a project; it also doesn’t prohibit a teacher from assigning an article that might have a concept from the 1619 Project.”
“So, for example, if they have an article that’s about the fact that every musical genre in America was kind of born from Black roots, that is a concept that comes from the 1619 Project, and that would still be allowed,” White continued.
Oleg Nudelman, a partner at the law firm’s Dallas and Fort Worth offices, was asked if schools could keep 1619 Project content in school libraries.
“What you cannot do with the 1619 Project is assign it as required reading because that would be arguably requiring an understanding of it, right?” Nudelman said, according to Fox News. “If a school district wants to have the 1619 Project in their library and let their kids check out and read it, that is not against state law.”
White added that “teachers are given a safe harbor from discipline for inappropriate content concerns if they are teaching from State Board of Education materials.”
“So, what that means is that teachers who use only materials from those state board-approved materials, they’re going to be immune from any sort of disciplinary proceedings that may allege a teacher violated any portion of the law,” White concluded, per Fox News.
A Thompson & Horton LLP representative subsequently claimed the presentation was intended to provide information regarding SB 3, the law’s provisions, and how schools can stay compliant with the law. The spokesperson emphasized that the firm does not support or promote any actions that would bypass the law, as stated to Fox News Digital.
AIM has launched a series of investigations into Texas schools allegedly attempting to incorporate CRT into classroom lessons despite the ideology being banned in Texas public schools since 2021.
“We’re not allowed to teach [CRT]. And so, it can’t be a requirement. However, I think that there are options. Our district is really big on inclusivity and diversity and equity,” said Adrienne Aldaco, the interim director of DEI at Austin ISD, as first reported by The Dallas Express.
An AIM investigation into Corpus Christi-area school districts purportedly exposed an administrator admitting there are aspects of the 1619 Project in their lessons.
“We probably don’t say ‘1619,’” said Jodi Ferguson, curriculum director at Calallen ISD, per AIM. “But are some of the concepts in there, in the way we’re teaching it, are they in there? I would say yes. … But we just can’t say ‘1619 Project.’”
Another investigation by AIM revealed San Antonio-area school officials admitting to not being concerned about the law.
“We do not follow much of what [Gov. Greg] Abbott is trying to get us to do,” said Marissa Cisneros Perez, the ELAR coordinator for Edgewood ISD, as reported by AIM. “The superintendent does what is best for the kids.”
“What we’ve captured throughout the state of Texas is entirely consistent with what we’ve seen in other states: The administrators do not care what the law tells them to do, they are committed to pushing the radical principles associated with critical race theory, no matter what,” claimed Adam Guillette, president of AIM, speaking with Fox News Digital.