S.C. lawmakers suing schools over allegations of critical race theory

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Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 9:25 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A group of sitting state lawmakers is now suing a South Carolina school district over allegations it is training staff to teach critical race theory, and they vow more lawsuits will follow for other schools and districts.

The sole plaintiffs in this lawsuit are the South Carolina Freedom Caucus, made up of around a dozen of the most conservative members of the state’s House of Representatives. The lawsuit has not been filed on behalf of any students, parents, or teachers in the district.

The caucus held a news conference Wednesday at the State House in Columbia to announce it was suing Lexington County School District One and that it also plans to soon file lawsuits against the Charleston County School District and a charter school in Greenville County.

“Every student in South Carolina in South Carolina deserves an education that is ideologically fair, fact-based, and that is supportive of parental involvement and authority,” Rep. Adam Morgan, R-Greenville, and the caucus chair, said.

In the lawsuit, members of the Freedom Caucus claim Lexington County School District One is teaching concepts associated with critical race theory, violating a temporary state law that prohibits state dollars from being used to teach those concepts in schools.

They include teaching that one race or sex is inherently superior to another, or that an individual, by virtue of his race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

The lawmakers allege the school district is doing this through its partnership with the nonprofit EL Education, which the lawsuit says supplies curricula and professional training for multiple schools in the district.

On its website, EL Education said it works to promote “opportunity for all students to achieve excellent equitable outcomes and release their unique genius,” and the lawmakers cite the nonprofit’s stated commitment to anti-racism in their argument.

The South Carolina Department of Education said EL Education is not a part of state-approved standards and is not included in any instructional materials purchased by the department.

The department has also maintained critical race theory and associated concepts are not part of state standards taught in South Carolina schools.

The Freedom Caucus claims it has evidence these concepts are being taught but did not provide it during Wednesday’s news conference, saying it will come out during the discovery phase of legal proceedings.

“We hope to expose what’s going on,” Rep. RJ May, R-Lexington, and the caucus vice chair, said. “The education establishment for the last two years have said that this wasn’t happening in schools. If we could have a court adjudicate that indeed it does, we hope to bring forward a number of our lawmakers and members of the executive branch to make sure that those laws are enforced.”

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, a Democrat representing Richland County, called the lawsuit a waste of taxpayer money that concerns a concept, critical race theory, that he said most people are unable to actually identify or define.

“I don’t know what they’re talking about, but I’m also positive they don’t know what they’re talking about either,” Rutherford said. “But I also know this: Lexington One is going to have to pay attorneys to dig into this to defend themselves. It’s going to cost taxpayers money, and I can think of a million different things taxpayers need to spend their money on rather than defending this.”

Requests for comment from EL Education, Lexington One, Charleston County School District, State Superintendent of Education-elect Ellen Weaver, Speaker of the House Murrell Smith, and the South Carolina Association of School Administrators were either declined or not returned.