A mostly white elementary school in Utah drew furious backlash after allowing parents to have their kids opt out of Black History Month lessons. As a result, the Maria Montessori Academy has backtracked on its decision, reports USA Today. The controversy began last week when the school's director, Micah Hirokawa, sent out a letter explaining that some parents complained about the BHM lessons and that he was "reluctantly" allowing their children to skip them if they wished, as reported by the Standard-Examiner. The reaction came quickly, with the NAACP, pro athletes in Utah, and lots of other school parents criticizing the move, per the Washington Post. Over the weekend, the school rescinded the option, reports Fox13.
"In the future, we will handle all parental concerns on an individual basis," wrote Hirokawa in a Facebook post. In his original letter, Hirokawa made clear that he personally opposed the opt-out decision but felt parents had the right to request it. “We should not shield our children from the history of our Nation, the mistreatment of its African American citizens, and the bravery of civil rights leaders, but should educate them about it,” wrote Hirokawa, whose grandparents were sent to a Japanese internment camp in the US during World War II. Of the school's 322 students, only three are Black. Roughly 70% of students are white. “If they want to opt out, then perhaps the best thing they should do is homeschool their children,” Salt Lake City NAACP President Jeanetta Williams tells KSL. (Read more Black History Month stories.)