TV Delmarva brought you news last month that the Caesar Rodney School District held white privilege exercises for teachers at an elementary school during an in-service day.
A list of ‘privileges’ document was leaked to a parent through a teacher last month. On the list, some of the privileges include being white, Christian, and heterosexual.
A FOIA request was filed after district officials refused to provide any details on the program. Our news department now has new insight into the program and how the district conspired to keep parents in the dark. You can find the full FOIA documents here.
The program, held on October 8th, was organized by staff at Nellie Stokes Elementary School, according to the FOIA details, materials used in the workshop were gathered from socialjusticetoolbox.com, a website that provides schools and other organizations with materials such as the ones used in the workshop in Caesar Rodney.
As part of the workshop, teachers were provided pretend money and asked to purchase privileges for $100 each.
The Caesar Rodney School District actively conspired to cover the workshop up at the time, and the emails included in the FOIA documents prove it. Time stamps show that the district’s spokesman, Mike Williams sent emails acknowledging the document and the program, prior to our phone call around noon on November 19.
During the phone call, Mr. Williams stated that he did not know where the ‘privileges’ document came from and encouraged us to question the parent who leaked it to try to find out what teacher provided them with the document. Williams also suggested that the document could have come from an after school program, such as the Boys and Girls Club. The emails obtained through the FOIA show that was a lie.
“I need to know if we are prepared to explain where the form came from – and how the parent got a copy,” Mr. Williams wrote in an email to the district’s superintendent, Kevin Fitzgerald, around 9:30 a.m. on November 19, hours before we spoke to him and he said the opposite.
Mr. Williams knew more than he led on at the time and lied to our news department regarding the origin of the document, fully knowing this was a workshop that was held for teachers at the elementary school.
Furthermore, Mr. Williams went on to insult our station and its viewers, essentially stating because we are not a larger broadcast television station that they are not required to respond to our inquiries.
“What needs to be decided now is if it’s better to answer or to allow the story to run without a more detailed reply from the district,” Williams wrote. “This isn’t WBOC or another larger broadcast, but it will certainly feed into the “they’re hiding something” aspect to the population that does follow this station.”
In the workshop, participants are encouraged to “respectfully challenge one another by asking questions” and that “community growth depends on the inclusion of every individual voice.” Well, if that is true, then why did the district blatantly and purposefully ignore our inquiries and then lie about the origin of the list of privileges?
TV Delmarva News spoke to Sam Chick, vice chair of the Delaware Young Republicans, who filed the FOIA following our story last month. Chick says Fitzgerald should be terminated or resign.
“I believe he should be terminated for this,” Chick said to our news department. “He has orchestrated a cover-up, the public was incensed about this document coming out, and it would have been a very simple thing to say ‘it did not go to students, but it did come from a training in our school.’ It’s that simple, honesty. This is what we want, we want honesty and transparency so we can all work together and improve things and have our schools operate the way we want. This is not Kevin Fitzgerald’s school, this is our school!”
Following our report Tuesday, Delaware Young Republicans issued the following statement calling for Fitzgerald’s immediate resignation:
“We call for the resignation of Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald who deliberately hid the truth from the public regarding the authenticity of this document. He misled parents, teachers, and taxpaying citizens last month by issuing a statement claiming the document was ‘unfounded.’ Fitzgerald, who is paid more than $282,000 by taxpayers annually, wrote in an email “We don’t need to comment on anything” when pressed by citizens and members of the media for the truth regarding this document. It is disgraceful for the Caesar Rodney School District to hide the truth from the public it serves, and even more disgraceful that the district is using valuable public resources on “privilege” training while students in the district are only 27% proficient in Math and 50% proficient in reading and writing.”
Similar workshops have been held in school districts throughout the state, including Sussex Tech, who back in 2018 paid $11,000 for a private company to come in and hold a similar program.
These type of workshops and programs fall in line with the priorities of Governor John Carney, according to the DOE, to “improve diversity and discrimination issues.” Interestingly enough, the workshop held on October 8th at Nellie Stokes Elementary, was kicked off with a welcome message from the Governor and the outgoing Secretary of Education, Susan Bunting.
Our attempts to reach Mr. Fitzgerald have been purposely unsuccessful on his part. Parents can have their voices heard by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org