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Albemarle County School Board Is Fighting Racism with … More Racism?

ADF represents a religiously and ethnically diverse group of parents and students to challenge the racially discriminatory policies of Albemarle County Public Schools.
Alliance Defending Freedom
An Albemarle County School Board policy instructs that students must be treated differently based on their race.

In 1998, a journal article was published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education titled, “Just what is critical race theory and what's it doing in a nice field like education?

Well, now we are starting to find out.

In Virginia, the Albemarle County School District has begun implementing policies based on critical race theory in its schools. Critical race theory is a radical ideology that requires students and teachers to view everyone and everything through the lens of race.

The school district’s policy requires that this ideology be integrated into every core subject and even goes so far as to treat students differently based on their race, ethnicity, or religious background. Then, the district crushes debate on the issue by mislabeling any alternative opinions as “racist.”

This policy clearly violates students’ rights by treating them differently on the basis of race. That’s why parents are taking a stand and challenging the school board in court.

Read the details of this case below.

Who is suing Albemarle County Public Schools?

What would your reaction be if you found out your child had learned in her middle school art class that she would never succeed in life—because of her ethnicity?

You’d be shocked—and rightfully so. But that situation is not just a hypothetical. It’s a reality in Albemarle County, Virginia, and it’s a direct consequence of the so-called “Anti-Racism Policy” that Albemarle County Public Schools passed in 2019.

The county’s policy, rooted in critical race theory ideology, teaches children to view themselves and their classmates through the lens of race, putting people into boxes like privileged vs. unprivileged, oppressors vs. oppressed, victimizers vs. victims, haves vs. have nots—all based entirely on their race. Not only is this damaging to children; it’s also a violation of their civil rights.

Thankfully, parents are standing up.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing a religiously and ethnically diverse group of five families to challenge the racially discriminatory policies and practices of Albemarle County Public Schools. While these families come from a wide range of racial and religious backgrounds, they are united in opposing racial discrimination and ensuring the rights of parents to protect their children from harmful ideologies infiltrating the educational system.

These families believe the schools should discuss race and racism, and they should teach the history of racism in the United States. But they should also treat every child as an individual endowed with innate human dignity and value, entitled to equal treatment. They should never treat any child differently based solely on their race, or view children only through the lens of race.

Ibañez v. Albemarle County School Board

In 2019, the Albemarle County School Board adopted a so-called “Anti-Racism Policy” with the stated purpose of eliminating “all forms of racism” in Albemarle County Public Schools. The policy seeks to do this through various programs, including training for teachers, staff, and administrators as well as through the implementation of an “anti-racist curriculum” for the students. On the surface, this initiative sounds laudable. Everyone should stand against racism. It’s an unqualified evil.

But that’s not what the policy does in practice. Rather, the policy, which is rooted in critical race theory, instructs that students must be treated differently based on their race.

At the heart of critical race theory is a redefinition of racism. Racism has long been understood as prejudice and discrimination based on race. But under critical race theory, racism is no longer focused on prejudice, so the solution is no longer about equality. Rather, critical race theory proponents actually advocate for present discrimination as the so-called remedy for past discrimination.

These advocates require that people be treated differently based on their race. And they demand that all people advance their theory by becoming “anti-racist.” Anyone who does not comply is labeled a racist.

What’s at stake?

Albemarle County Public Schools has bought into this ideology completely. To implement its new policy, the district turned to critical race theorists like Ibram X. Kendi and Glenn Singleton, who prescribe a regimen of disparate race-based treatment and racial stereotyping. In his book How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi argues for discrimination as the answer to past and present discrimination: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

The school board is seeking to indoctrinate children with the ideology of critical race theory. The district’s policy states, “Educators play a vital role in reducing racism and inequity by recognizing the manifestations of racism, creating culturally inclusive learning and working environments, and dismantling educational systems that directly or indirectly perpetuate racism and privilege through teaching, policy, and practice.”

Our clients want to prevent this discriminatory and harmful ideology from being indoctrinated into their children.

Case timeline

  • February 2019: Albemarle County School Board adopted its “Anti-Racism Policy.”
  • 2019-2020 School Year: The school district implemented its policy by making policy-based changes to English Language Arts and Social Studies classes. Changes to these classes are ongoing.
  • 2021: School District made policy-based changes to Science and Math curricula. Changes are ongoing.
  • 2020-2021 School Year: The School District required all staff to attend an orientation covering the Anti-Racism Policy followed by a mandatory book study on Glenn Singleton’s book Courageous Conversations About Race.
  • December 2021: Five families represented by ADF filed a legal complaint with the Circuit Court for the County of Albemarle.
  • February 2022: ADF filed a motion for preliminary injunction to halt the implementation of the school board’s problematic policies.
  • June 2022: A Virginia trial judge ruled in favor of the school board and dismissed the case. ADF attorneys are appealing the decision.

The bottom line

Teaching children to categorize themselves as oppressors or victims based solely on their race harms children, and policies that advocate racial discrimination as a solution to racial inequities have no place in public schools. As U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts once wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Those words have never been timelier than they are now.

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