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Utah school says it will no longer allow parents to 'opt out' kids from Black History Month

The 'opt out' created a national uproar.

Utah school says it will no longer allow parents to 'opt out' kids from Black History Month

The Maria Montessori Academy in North Ogden, Utah made national headlines last week when it offered opt-out forms to its parents after some were unwilling to allow their children to participate in the school's Black History Month curriculum.

The school's curriculum is based on state social studies standards.

The school's school director Micah Hirokawa said that he "reluctantly" issued a letter explaining that families are allowed "to exercise their civil rights to not participate in Black History Month at the school."

It's unbelievable that parents would have a problem with their children learning about the unique contributions that Black people have made to America and the struggles they have faced to be treated equally.

But as history shows, there have always been those who've stood on the wrong side of history.


The city of North Ogden is 94.2% white. According to the Standard-Examiner, there are 322 children enrolled at the academy of which only three are Black.

Betty Sawyer, head of the Ogden chapter of the NAACP, contacted the school after hearing that the Black History Month curriculum had been made optional.

Three days after the opt-out decision and a national backlash, the school reversed its decision. According to the school, it came to an agreement with the parents and all children will participate in the curriculum.

"We regret that after receiving requests, an opt-out form was sent out concerning activities planned during this month of celebration," a statement from Hirokawa and the school's board of directors said.

"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," the statement said.

Hirokawa said that the original decision to allow parents to opt-out stood against his personal beliefs as the great-grandson of people sent to a Japanese internment camp.

"I personally see a lot of value in teaching our children about the mistreatment, challenges and obstacles that people of color in our Nation have had to endure and what we can do today to ensure that such wrongs don't continue," Hirokawa said.

After hearing that the decision was reversed, the Ogden chapter of the NAACP released a statement.

"Authentically teaching Black History as American history allows our youth to develop the social and emotional skills necessary to be inclusive of others and cultivates a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race," the statement said.

"While this decision was recently reversed, we find its very consideration troubling," the statement continued.

While the idea that some parents wanted their children to opt-out of the Black History Month curriculum is awful, to say the least, it's encouraging to learn that the decision was reversed. One of the messages of Black History month is the importance of people coming together to have a dialog about their differences and to create a way forward.

It appears as though the Maria Montessori Academy saw the issue as an opportunity to have a constructive conversation with parents and eventually, everyone was able to come together to meet the needs of the children.

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