Media Circus Surrounding Event Deflated
Approximately 80 residents turned out for a town hall hosted by the RSJC commissioners representing the Coles, Brentsville, and Gainesville Districts on October 5th at Patriot High School.
The town hall, which was the most widely attended meeting affiliated with the commission in their near one-year existence, was well run and offered opportunities for parents on both sides of the issues of Critical Race Theory and “Culturally Responsive Teaching” to share their thoughts. In all, ten residents spoke against the ideologies which blames white children of today for the sins of some in the past while effectively granting freedom from responsibility due to the belief that “systemic racism” is an all encompassing issue in modern-day Prince William County. Seven residents alleged that the tenets of Critical Race Theory and Culturally Responsive Teaching, such as “equity” are not being interwoven into Prince William County Schools – a charge denied in May by School Board Chair, Dr. Babur Lateef, who said an impending “Equity” document was in fact Critical Race Theory.
The ongoing back and forth of what Lateef has confirmed and the continued denial by other officials revolving around CRT has become a point of contention in the county.
Media coverage prior to the event stated Racial Commission Chair, Shantell Rock was unaware of the event. However, Coles District appointee, Mac Haddow made his intention to have a town hall known to the commission in April of this year and provided the details for the town hall during the last RSCJ meeting on September 23rd, for which Rock was present and included the date, time, and location of the town hall. InsideNova did not fact check this and simply repeated Rock’s false statements leading up to the meeting.
Daniel Berti of the Prince William Times attended and provided live tweets of the meeting. After his tweets began, Nolan Stout, of InsideNova (who did not attend the meeting) wrote a story based upon Berti’s tweets insinuating that the meeting was in violation of FOIA since the meeting was not given three days notice. Again, Haddow provided notice of the event, time, and location at the September 23rd RSJC meeting, a full two weeks in advance of the town hall and the meeting was well published through e-mails and social media in the days leading up to it. The responsibility to post a notification of the meeting on the county website prior to the meeting fell upon Prince William County Government staff who failed to do so in a timely manner despite the advance notice.
An e-mail from Haddow to Chair Rock detailing and reminding her of these facts can be found here. The e-mail was also sent to InsideNova, which subsequently had to revise the story many times to reflect some accuracy.
An audio recording of the October 5th town hall can be found here. The meeting, which did not allow for the demeaning security checks and the badgering by partisan agitators, which has become accepted at recent county meetings, contained a public comment time and Q&A portion. Prior to public comment time, Haddow took it upon himself to detail the numerous times the citizenry has been lied to by the government. Haddow explained that this is what is happening in Prince William County today when government officials deny the existence of the tenets of Critical Race Theory, such as equity policies, cultural responsiveness, and intersectionality being woven into fabric of Prince William County Schools and Prince William County government as a whole.
Prince William County’s Racial Commission has long been beset by procedural issues and accusations of a general lack of professionalism from the commission as a whole and within its subcommittees, particularly the Education Subcommittee. Despite monthly encouragement and tax dollars spent by the commission (see below) to get residents to report discriminatory actions taken by Prince William County government, very few residents have responded to these calls thus far in 2021. This is largely in line with the historical findings of the County’s Human Rights Commission, another commission tasked with performing the same function.
The next scheduled meeting of the commission will take place on October 21st and can be viewed here.
– Coles District Staff