The High School from Hell
A black student's fight against Critical Race Theory
Let me tell you about a lawsuit and a school’s efforts to force Intersectionality/Critical Race Theory on a student that refuses indoctrination.
William Clark is a senior at Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, a public charter school, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He started the 2020 school year like any other senior: ready to graduate and pursue his dreams. His future is in music and he wants to attend Berkley School of Music or New York University. His dreams are normal but he faces unique challenges. His father is deceased, his mother is temporarily disabled and unemployed, and he works fast food to help support his family. He is also suing his school.
William’s easy senior year was cancelled by Democracy Prep after he stood up for what he believed. Not cancelled in the COVID sense, but through means that violated his Constitutional rights as a student. You see, this year, he has been required to take a year-long class called “Sociology of Change” taught by teacher Kathryn Bass.
The class is inspired by radical Intersectionalist/Critical Race Theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw. The first assignments in “Sociology of Change” included:
Requiring William to “reveal his racial, sexual, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities and religious identities.”
Determining if any parts of William’s identity “have privilege or oppression attached to it.”
According to Democracy Prep, recognizing these traits is important because from there you can identify your power and oppression. From the class:
It was brainwashing. William and the rest of the students were instructed they “have a lot of unlearning to do.” They needed to “eliminate institutional and ideological oppressions” by undoing and unlearning their “internalized beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that stem from oppression.”
Some of the worst class materials related to “Institutions + Opression.” The family reinforces racism. Religion promotes “right versus wrong judgment.” (As if Critical Race Theorists don’t do the same.)
The Critical Race theory didn’t stop there. It continued in meme form, featuring rainbow-hands SpongeBob with the message “Reverse Racism Doesn’t Exist.”
One more slid for good measure.
The Student is also the Accused
William is half-white. His deceased father was white; his mother is black. According to his lawsuit, his green eyes, blondish hair, and light skin make it that he is presumed “white” by his peers. And the message from the teacher to his peers was simple: William is the oppressor.
The hostile class environment, disagreements during class, and the overall message of the class caused William and his mother to determine that he would no longer participate. Democracy Prep answered that he must complete the class or “he would not be permitted to graduate from high school.” He must sit there, learn Intersectionality/Critical Race Theory, and be reminded of his oppressive status. Otherwise, college is out of the question and he can’t pursue music. To his credit, William stuck to his principles. That’s a lot of courage for a high schooler.
The school retaliated. Instead of accommodating his request for another class, they gave him a D-. This was a violation of the school’s own standards, which state that “Democracy Prep does not give Ds.” The lowest grade they would give is a C-. William was the exception.
All of this led to William and his mother’s Constitutional (and other) claims in their lawsuit, including:
Compelled speech, retaliation, viewpoint discrimination, in violation of the First Amendment;
Invasion of privacy, equal protection, due process, and retaliatory violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments;
Intentional and retaliatory discrimination on the basis of race and religion; and
Violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for sex-based discrimination.
Democracy Preps Problems aren’t Limited to Critical Race Theory
There’s more. The issues at the school didn’t start in 2020. There’s a lot going on underneath the surface, the parts that outsiders can’t see. For those in the know, Democracy Prep is a school from hell.
Former faculty described a culture that didn’t care for the kids. Bullying and harassment of students wasn’t addressed, leading to a student’s suicide. Sexual harassment of staff and inappropriate comments to students were ignored. Grades were changed – possibly to get more funding.
All these accusations come from employees who left the school. Former Democracy Prep principal Christina Bentheim prepared a sworn declaration in support of William’s case and under penalty of perjury, outlining the school’s terrible history. Her declaration includes accusations that:
“Enrollment numbers appear to have been manipulated and inaccurately recorded presumably to secure funding.”
Administration required police officers responding to “abuse/neglect/student sexual conduct” to not park in front of the building. Apparently the optics were bad.
Staff presentations of “Decentering White Dominant Culture Through Management.”
School staff alters “grades and attendance records,” often “for public relations, regulatory, financial and discretionary reasons.” William Clark, who challenged his Intersectionality/Critical Race Theory class, was not afforded such accommodation.
The staff presentation former principal Bentheim mentions in her declaration can be seen here. For context, below are some of the most egregious slides.
These complaints of former principal Bentheim were not new. Many of these were made in this February 2019 whistleblower e-mail.
Former teacher Nicole Tishkowitz also submitted a sworn declaration in support of William. She explains that Democracy Prep’s problems extended far beyond Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory:
A 2018 suicide of a “bullied and harassed” student could have been prevented with by a competent faculty.
She was subjected to sexual harassment from a fellow faculty member and reported it on “multiple occasions.” This same faculty member was also observed making inappropriate comments to female students. She was told to “stay away from him.”
She was harassed multiple times by her direct supervisor. Nothing was done after she complained.
“William is one of the only students in the school who looks white, and I believe this was a factor in [the school’s] policy towards him when he objected to the class.”
“I experienced bullying from supervisors [at Democracy Prep] that was racially motivated.”
William’s attorneys requested a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against Democracy and the other defendants (including the faculty), asking for an order that his D- in “Sociology of Change” be expunged, that he be permitted to enroll in another class or project, and that Democracy Prep and its faculty be restrained from their coercive, harassing, and retaliatory actions against William.
The attorneys for Democracy Prep and the other defendants responded as one would expect. Not by trying working with the soon-to-graduate student, but by asking the court to shut these requests down.
They said asking William to “identify his race and sex on a private form and independently reflect on them” was “not harassment at all,” despite the messages from his teacher that his identity was problematic. And in any event, that was “not compelled speech” according to Democracy Prep’s lawyers. It was, rather, the type of typical lesson that courts regularly uphold.
The preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order have been heard by the judge. The judge was receptive to William’s case, saying “I think William is likely to succeed on the merits” of his compelled speech claims.
We hope to hear good news soon. The parties are currently conducting settlement efforts. William has extra leverage due to the judge’s statements.
As this case goes on, credit to William, his mother, and their attorneys for taking the stand and putting up a fight. And as Intersectionality/Critical Race Theory increasingly creeps into schools, it will be up to brave students and their parents to fight back against indoctrination.
On the other side, educators and lawyers introducing Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory to young minds are certainly reviewing this case and taking notes. Not to address parental and public concerns over the materials, but to figure out just how far they can go without being taken to court.