SOUTHLAKE, Texas — A teacher in Carroll ISD reached an agreement with the district Monday to settle her grievances over a reprimand she received last fall. It stemmed from a parent complaint over an anti-racism book.
Rickie Farah is a fourth-grade teacher at Johnson Elementary School and last year was named Teacher of the Year, but Monday morning she sat in front of the school board during a two-hour closed-door session to fight the reprimand on her record.
Last spring a student in her class brought home the book: "This Book is Anti-Racist." The student’s parents complained about the book to the school principal and alleged Farah bullied the student afterwards for taking a book without asking.
A handful of parents and at least one district teacher spoke at the 8 a.m. meeting, all defending Farah.
“Put politics aside and think about your students, your teachers and your community,” Christina McGuirk, a fourth-grade teacher, urged.
“When we express outrage toward recognizing diversity, we open the door to endless conflict and interfere with celebrating our differences,” Kevin Lee added.
In October, the board voted 3-2 to reprimand her, despite district officials deciding not to discipline her. Board member Sheri Mills was one of the votes against the reprimand and said the vote was a warning.
“I would like to let the teachers know if you are worried about teaching school in this school district, you should watch this vote,” Mills said in October. “I want you to know that you are right to be worried by whoever votes ‘yes’.”
While the agreement has not been made public, the board also voted to acknowledged that the ability to discipline and reprimand at the campus level lies with the principals, not the board.
“Ms. Farah’s very pleased with the outcome and grateful that this has been resolved,” Farah’s attorney Jason Stuart said. “She loves this community and her students and looks forward to continued success in the classroom.”
The meeting was, at times, emotional. Some in attendance appeared to wipe away tears as Kelsey Headrick, a parent of one of Farah’s students last year, spoke in support of her.
“The narrative painted about Mrs. Farah is so grotesquely false - that makes me sick,” she said. “She stands for love and being brave, accountability and doing the right thing, even when it is hard.”
Headrick also added that the district’s meeting in the morning instead of the afternoon kept more teachers and parents from showing their support. She said she believes there was a rush to judgement and that Farah has still not been able to publicly share her view of what occurred.
“Things that we might feel passionate about - we need to remember to see all sides of the story first before we can really make decisions,” she said. “If we can have healthier conversations about things - that there’s a lot more common ground here than is really being painted.”