Several parents in North Ogden, Utah previously requested that their children be exempt from taking part in a charter school’s Black History Month curriculum. Those parents have now withdrawn their requests following widespread criticism.
The Standard Examiner reported on Saturday, February 6 that Maria Montessori Academy faced pushback after announcing it would be optional for students to participate in the school’s Black History Month curriculum. Betty Sawyer, president of the Odgen NAACP chapter, called the Academy on Saturday to convince school officials to reverse their decision. That same day, the Academy’s director, Micah Hirokawa, wrote in a since removed Facebook post that said families were allowed “to exercise their civil rights to not participate in Black History Month at the school.”
According to data provided by the Utah State Board of Education, the school’s student body consists of 322 students. White students make up 70 percent of the population, while only three of the students are Black.
Hirokawa later expressed that he was sorry for the social media post, and for giving students the option to choose whether or not to participate in the Black History Month curriculum. He says what he posted goes against his beliefs as a man of Asian descent. “We regret that after receiving requests, an opt-out form was sent out concerning activities planned during this month of celebration,” Hirokawa said in a statement. “We are grateful that families that initially had questions and concerns have willingly come to the table to resolve any differences and at this time no families are opting out of our planned activities and we have removed this option.”
Moving forward, Hirokawa said the Academy will handle issues on an individual basis.