Sunday, July 25, 2021

Lake County lawmaker calls for governor to remove Polk superintendent

LAKELAND — A Lake County state lawmaker is calling for Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove newly installed Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Frederick Heid from his job because Heid is participating Thursday evening in an informational forum about Critical Race Theory, hosted by the NAACP’s Lakeland chapter.

Terry Coney, president of the Lakeland National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, organized the event to discuss publicly “what Critical Race Theory is, what it isn’t, and what is all of the fuss about,” according to the event flier.  

“We’re not trying to push Critical Race Theory, we’re not trying to get Polk County Public Schools to adopt Critical Race Theory,” Coney said in a Wednesday morning phone call. “This started out as an education event to educate the community on what Critical Race Theory is and to debunk a bunch of misinformation out there. He was invited as another means to introduce him to the community. And give him a chance to talk about…teaching African American history in Polk County.”

Terry Coney, Lakeland NAACP president.

But Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, sent a letter to DeSantis Monday, saying, “This behavior is completely unacceptable for a school superintendent. Critical Race Theory is fancy academic jargon for anti-white hatred and has no place in our society — much less our schools. Based off this information and the callers’ wishes, Superintendent Frederick Heid needs to be immediately removed from his position and his employment must be terminated.” 

Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Frederick Heid.

In addition to Heid, who was hired by the Polk County School Board and officially began his job July 1, two University of South Florida professors are speaking. Vonzell Agosto is associate professor of curriculum studies/educational leadership and policy studies, while Dana Thompson Dorsey, who holds a law degree, is the director of the David C. Anchin Center for the Advancement of Teaching and an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies.

Heid said he was invited to speak at Thursday’s forum.

“Critical Race Theory is not included anywhere in our curriculum,” he said. “All of our lessons and activities are focused on the standards set forth by the Florida Department of Education. My intention is to use this forum as an opportunity to reassure our stakeholders that we do not teach Critical Race Theory. I will also explain how PCPS offers a wide variety of inclusive lessons that recognize and celebrate the vast diversity in our community. My role in this forum is limited to that aspect alone.” 

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