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Post Falls schools join fight against bad info

by ELLI GOLDMAN HILBERT
Staff Writer | October 20, 2021 1:00 AM

POST FALLS — The rumors are swirling statewide.

And now, so is a rebuttal to widespread misinformation.

Post Falls School District Superintendent Dena Naccarato reached out to district patrons this week to set the record straight after phone calls to the district and comments made at board meetings have made it clear that misinformation is running rampant.

“People don’t know what to believe anymore,” Naccarato said Tuesday. “There seems to be a movement in Idaho to defund public schools and a belief that public education in Idaho is not successful.”

Hot button issues like critical race theory and COVID-19 are stirring up public dissension to the point that Naccarato decided it was necessary to send a districtwide email to clarify the district’s position.

“Misinformation propelled through social media is causing fear and unrest for some in our Post Falls community,” the email said.

Board member Michelle Lippert said there's a lot of “fear mongering” and that “trigger terms” are being thrown around to discredit school employees and trustees.

Lippert said a gentleman at a recent board meeting made accusations that critical race theory is being taught and claims that he intends to root it out.

“There’s nothing to root out,” Lippert said Tuesday.

The district email clarifies that critical race theory is not, and never has been, a part of district curriculum.

In March, CRT became “a part of the national rhetoric,” the email said. But not one administrator in the district had ever heard the term before the district began to receive calls about it, Naccarato said.

“If you don’t know what it is, you can’t teach it,” Lippert said.

“CRT has become a battle cry for those who wish to destroy public education in our nation and county,” Naccarato said.

Some candidates running for school board seats may also be trying to defame current board members, Lippert said.

Using CRT issues as a platform, candidate signage around town claims that it will remove CRT from the curriculum, Lippert said. But it has never been part of the curriculum and it won’t be in the future, the email said.

“The candidates stating that it is do not have children in the district nor are they graduates of the district," Lippert said. "The term is used to elicit an emotional response, not a reasoned one.”

The district does teach social emotional learning, which involves instructing children in how to use social skills and to manage emotions in a school setting.

Teaching anti-bullying, personal safety and conflict resolution for elementary students has been a part of the curriculum for decades, the email said. At the secondary level, the focus is on anti-bullying and suicide prevention.

The district’s COVID operational plan has been challenged as well. It's clearly defined on the district website at PFSD.com.

While focusing on hygiene to discourage the spread of the virus, the district does not mandate masks. They are recommended but not required and the district also has not “considered a vaccination mandate for anyone.”

The current plan is to keep school in session five days a week for all students. Public questions are encouraged and PFSD staff is available to address them at (208) 773-1658.

Parents are always welcome to visit student classrooms as well, the email said.

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