A nonprofit media watchdog captured video footage this month that it says shows attorneys from a prominent Texas law firm telling school administrators how to get around a state law that bans the promotion of critical race theory.
Attorneys from the firm Thompson & Horton LLP are seen in the video obtained by Fox News Digital giving a presentation at the Texas Association of School Boards conference in Dallas this month.
The video – shot by the investigative journalism team at Accuracy in Media – shows the attorneys explaining how Texas prohibits the teaching of critical race theory, but the presenters seemingly provide teachers with information on how to work around the law.
“So, Senate Bill 3 does prohibit a teacher or school district from requiring an understanding of the 1619 Project,” Ashley White, senior associate at Thompson & Horton, tells a crowd at the conference. “However, it doesn’t prohibit a student from choosing to do an assignment on the 1619 Project; it doesn’t prohibit the teacher from having the 1619 Project among a number of other books that the students could select from related to a project; it also doesn’t prohibit a teacher from assigning an article that might have a concept from the 1619 Project.”
“So, for example, if they have an article that’s about the fact that every musical genre in America was kind of born from Black roots, that is a concept that comes from the 1619 Project and that would still be allowed.”
The 1619 Project, founded by New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones in August 2019, has become one of the most prominent critical race theory curriculums promoted by progressive educators but maligned by both Republicans and Democrats for its historical inaccuracies.
White also explained that “teachers are given a safe harbor from discipline for inappropriate content concerns if they are teaching from state board of education materials.”
“So, what that means is that teachers who use only materials from those state board-approved materials, they’re going to be immune from any sort of disciplinary proceedings that may allege a teacher violated any portion of the law,” she said.
Oleg Nudelman, a partner in the Dallas and Fort Worth offices of Thompson & Horton, is seen on the video responding to a question from an audience member who said, “[T]heoretically, you could have the 1619 Project in your library.”
“You’re exactly right,” Nudelman said. “What you cannot do with the 1619 Project is assign it as required reading because that would be arguably requiring an understanding of it, right? If a school district wants to have the 1619 Project in their library and let their kids check out and read it, that is not against state law.”
Adam Guillette, president of Accuracy in Media, told Fox News Digital that the law firm, which exclusively works on “school law” on behalf of Texas schools and universities, is explaining to administrators how to “lie to parents” and “indoctrinate kids” and that administrators across the country are ignoring anti-CRT efforts.
“What we’ve captured throughout the state of Texas is entirely consistent with what we’ve seen in other states: The administrators do not care what the law tells them to do, they are committed to pushing the radical principles associated with critical race theory, no matter what,” Guillette said.
Earlier this week, Accuracy in Media released a video from Corpus Christi, Texas, that it says shows an administrator admitting to pushing the 1619 Project despite the ban.
“We probably don’t say ‘1619,’” Jodi Ferguson, curriculum director at the Calallen ISD, said in the video. “But are some of the concepts in there, in the way we’re teaching it, are they in there? I would say yes. … But we just can’t say ‘1619 Project.’”
Guillette expressed concern that laws banning CRT have “zero impact” and that he doesn’t know if politicians are “placating voters” or if they “don’t realize” that the laws are being ignored.
“It’s morally outrageous when you meet with administrator after administrator who brags to you about deceiving parents and ignoring the law, and it’s incredibly outrageous to learn that tax dollars are essentially used to pay for a conference where they hired attorneys to teach them to circumvent the will of elected officials and the will of the parents,” Guillette said.
“No matter what, we still have to keep in mind Senate Bill 3, but like we said, there’s very easy ways to take into consideration and still continue to have these DEI efforts,” White says in the hidden camera video.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for Thompson & Horton LLP said the “nature of our presentation” was a focus on “explaining Senate Bill 3, its provisions, and how schools can remain in compliance.”
“We do not endorse or encourage any actions that would circumvent laws,” the spokesperson said. “We understand concerns about parental rights, and our primary objective is to provide accurate information and guidance to Texas educators to ensure teaching practices are within the boundaries of the law.”
The spokesperson said the quotes in the presentation are “consistent with the requirements of the law and were used to describe what the law requires and does not require.”
“That is essential to an understanding of any law, which is the purpose of a presentation such as this, during which audience members often ask us questions for further clarification,” the firm said. “Our purpose was not to advocate for any position, policy decision, or teaching approach, but to provide a clear description of this new law to those responsible for making such decisions.”
Accuracy in Media “doesn’t fault attorneys for offering legal advice,” the group told Fox News Digital. “We fault administrators for trying to subvert the law and deceive parents.”
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