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Virginia PTA official resigns after ‘let them die’ comment in response to Critical Race Theory critics

Michelle Leete, the Virginia PTA Vice President of Training, was asked to resign after she made the controversial comments in front of a crowd, according to a statement from the Virginia PTA. Leete is also a board member of the Fairfax, Virginia, NAACP.

Leete’s comments were captured in video taken outside Luther Jackson Middle School, where a Fairfax County Virginia school board meeting was held Thursday night.

“So let’s meet and remain steadfast in speaking truth, tearing down double standards, and refuting double talk,” Leete says in the video. “Let’s not allow any double-downing on lies. Let’s prepare our children for a world they deserve.

“Let’s deny this off-key band of people that are anti-education, anti-teacher, anti-equity, anti-history, anti-racial reckoning, anti-opportunities, anti-help people, anti-diversity, anti-platform, anti-science, anti-change agent, anti-social justice, anti-healthcare, anti-worker, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-children, anti-healthcare, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-admissions policy change, anti-inclusion, anti-live-and-let live people. Let them die.”

The crowd of people cheered after her comments, according to a copy of the video obtained by CNN.

The video was filmed by Asra Nomani, a vice president at Parents Defending Education, which describes itself as “a national grassroots organization working to reclaim our schools from activists promoting harmful agendas.”

Leete provided a copy of her speech to The Washington Post on Friday which read “Let them (ideals) die,” according to the paper. According to the Post, Leete said that her “Let them die” comment referred to “the ideals that show a disregard and lack of support for our teachers who have a truly difficult job to do even without a pandemic.”

CNN has reached out to Leete, who said she and the NAACP would be providing a statement late Saturday night, though no statement thus far has been provided.

The resignation is the latest salvo in the pitched debate over Critical Race Theory, a theory for understanding the world that focuses on the role of systemic racism as the underpinning of American society. The idea has faced sharp resistance over the past year from conservatives who say that the theory divides people of different races against each other and is inappropriate for K-12 schools.
At least two dozen states have banned critical race theory or introduced legislation to ban it from being taught in the classroom — even though educators say that the theory itself is generally not included in grade school curricula. And proponents along with critical race theorists insist that the concept is being conflated with conversations about diversity and equality.

Protest at Virginia school board meeting

Harry Jackson, a parent who has opposed Critical Race Theory, called Leete’s comments “appalling and inappropriate.”

“Why would you ever wish death on someone who you disagree with,” he told CNN.

This year, Jackson became the first African American to be voted in as PTA president for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, along with other board members who oppose Critical Race Theory being taught in schools.

He and others ran in part to make sure the theory was not taught in their schools he told CNN. But the state PTA is trying to nullify his and other board members win saying they did not follow proper procedure.

He was pleased the Virginia PTA requested Leete’s resignation.

“It was a responsible gesture by the Virgina PTA. Now I hope the Fairfax NAACP and PTA do the same,” he said.

Fairfax, Virginia, and neighboring Loudoun County have become flash points in the ongoing critical race theory debate.

In Fairfax, issues over diversity of all kinds in their top-rated Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has caused an uproar when the school announced it was going to eliminating standardized testing requirements and application fees for incoming freshmen.

It was a move to promote more diversity in the district, but some parents railed against it, saying it would simply “dumb down” the academic standards.

CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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