SEWICKLEY, Pa. (KDKA) -- It's a quiet and prestigious private school that has educated generations of students without a hint of controversy, but Sewickley Academy has suddenly become a hotbed of division.
On one side, a group of parents is calling for a "curriculum and culture free of ideological agenda ... political bias and social indoctrination." On the other is a group that finds the language racially tinged and is fighting back.
"This is a multi-racial group of parents throughout the community who are outraged and concerned and fearful for their children's safety," said Dominique Odom, the group's spokesperson.
The group, which calls itself Concerned Sewickley Parents, ties last week's dismissal of a teacher and four administrators to backlash against a plan to achieve diversity and inclusion — which some have interpreted as critical race theory, the teaching that American history and policy was shaped by racial discrimination.
Odom said the so-called DEISJ plan is not that.
"The plan was seen as being pro-Black or a Black agenda. So as we've seen with fragility throughout the country, there's the inference that something is being taken away from one group to appease or elevate another group to a certain status," she said.
Late on Tuesday for the first time, the school put out a statement saying the dismissal of the staff was research-driven and not tied to concerns over the teaching of racial history. The school announced the replacements on Monday.
"Sewickley Academy is and always has been committed to fostering a safe and inclusive environment for students and families of every race, color, creed, religion, and sexual orientation, and ultimately provide an experience that delivers academic excellence," Sewickley Academy said in its statement.
Odom moved from the city of Pittsburgh to Sewickley six years ago so her son could attend Sewickley Academy. She and others are meeting this week with school officials, but she said the school has taken a wrong turn.
"It's not to say it was a perfect place. There were bumps in the road, but the door was always open and there was dialogue, which is important. And there was education — not indoctrination," she said.
But in meeting with the acting head of the school, the group is not optimistic — either of having these administrators reinstated or of reaching a reconciliation — as the academy goes into the school year with deep divisions.
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