FARMINGTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — Parents and local political groups protested Tuesday outside the Farmington Public Schools Board meeting, where administrators were set to discuss their initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Due to the large crowds the district was anticipating, they moved the meeting to the auditorium at North Farmington High School, hearing more than an hour of public comment.
Prior to the meeting on the sidewalks outside the high school, protesters made clear they don’t agree with what’s being taught inside.
“We stand for inclusion. What we have a problem with is replacing equality with equity, an equity that puts America last,” said Rocky Rackowski, a former Republican state representative and graduate of Farmington Public Schools.
Local GOP organizers helped hold a press conference, upset over the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion program. In particular, a 21-Day Equity Challenge held last fall.
“I think the purpose of the challenge was equality, and I think it did the opposite," one Farmington parent said. "I'm frustrated.”
In front of the entrance of the school, others in the community gathered in support.
“We moved here for the diversity, I want that to continue,” said parent of Farmington Schools graduates Beth Martinez.
The specifics of the challenge are no longer available on the district website, but those in support of it say these programs aren’t meant to divide.
“There are these extreme lies that have been told that are saying we’re trying to raise their children, in particular white children, to believe they’re racists and oppressors," said Bloomfield Hills parent Stephanie Crider, who attended the meeting to support the school district. "That’s an absolute lie, that is not what is taught.”
During the meeting, the district said the 21-day challenge was an optional exercise with daily posts and weekly Zoom meetings for added dialogue on the issues.
"It never was intended to stand alone because absent the context and the dialogue, individual pieces could be misinterpreted or misrepresented,” Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Chris Delgado said.
“This 21-day challenge isn’t educating people, it’s selling them their own oppression,” said one woman during public comment.
Despite push back, the district says the majority of responses have been positive and most in opposition are from people outside the community. The superintendent added that the diversity, equity and inclusion program will continue in the future.
“There will always be groups of dissenters," one parent during public comment said. "But just because they can come up with rhyming slogans or make themselves loud doesn't mean they represent the majority of our community.”
Outside of the crowd, there is also a petition on change.org from Farmington parents in support over the equity program. It had over 600 signatures Tuesday night.