A Connecticut instructor is suing his school system, saying he was punished for speaking out against a required training session on “privilege” and critical race theory.
John Grande said in his federal complaint that Hartford Public Schools staff members were required to participate in the “Identity & Privilege” Zoom program in 2020. The training allegedly focused on gender and race as elements of “privilege,” as well as critical race theory.
As a heterosexual white Christian man, Grande claims that the questions posed by instructors at the required session attacked him specifically for his identity. After the training, the Hartford instructors were supposedly divided into smaller groups to address specific topics. After being “simply man-bashed and white-shamed,” Grande said he would “sit silently” in response to a question about his thoughts on the training. He claims that his group’s coworkers were all supportive of his reaction.
It was “part of the superintendent’s goal to improve her career,” Grande said in a subsequent poll he took regarding the training’s usefulness.
Three months later, according to Grande, he was investigated for allegedly making “inappropriate and hostile statements.” Following a pre-disciplinary hearing over a year later, the school board in Hartford reportedly sent him a letter of reprimand and ordered him to attend “sensitivity” training.
Grande asserts that Hartford’s discipline for exercising his First Amendment rights is a clear violation of the company’s employee handbook, which asserts that no employee “will be subject to disciplinary action or retaliatory action of any kind.”
Grande is requesting that the court hold the actions of the school district authorities to violate the First Amendment, remove the reprimand letter from his personnel file, and provide him compensatory and punitive damages.
Although the school system “disagrees [s] with the accusations contained in said litigation,” it “respects [s] the right for everyone to seek counsel,” according to a statement sent to Crisis in the Classroom by the district.