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Carroll ISD declines 'In God We Trust' signs with rainbow colors, written in Arabic

The district had previously accepted "In God We Trust" signs from a Christian conservative cellphone company to be displayed at every school.

SOUTHLAKE, Texas — The Carroll ISD school board has declined to accept "In God We Trust" signs that had rainbow colors and one written in Arabic.

The district in Southlake, Texas, had previously accepted "In God We Trust" signs from a Christian conservative cellphone company to be displayed at all schools.

On Aug. 15, Patriot Mobile, which donated $500,000 to influence school board races in Tarrant County, made the donation after Texas lawmakers passed a law in 2021 that required schools to display posters of the national motto if they are privately donated.

In response, residents went to Carroll ISD's board meeting on Monday to present their own "In God We Trust" signs.

Srivan Krishna tried to donate the signs created by current and former district students.

One sign presented had the word "God" with rainbow-colored letters, along with the U.S. and Texas flags. Another sign had the motto written in Arabic.

For another sign, "God" was written with colors of the transgender pride flag. Another proposed sign had the motto with a rainbow-colored background.

The school board cited it had no obligation to accept these donations of signs because the district had already accepted signs from Patriot Mobile.

“All 11 campuses, plus the admin building, now have the poster pursuant to SB 797," Cam Bryant, the board president, said. "The statute does not contemplate requiring the district to display more than one copy at a time. Instead the statue requires a durable poster or framed copy which limits displays to one poster or framed copy in an effort not to overwhelm schools with donations.”

“It doesn’t say you have to stop at one," Krishna said. "That is your decision to stop at one. Why is more God not good? Are you saying you don’t have one square feet of space in our buildings.”

Texas' law does not mention a limit on donated signs.

When asked to clarify why the board didn't accept the signs, the district told WFAA it had no additional comment.

"All of us are stakeholders in this community. In this state, we’re all taxpayers, we’re all voters and we’re all citizens so we wanted to be a part of this as well," Krishna told WFAA. "I felt incredibly frustrated and disappointed."

"It’s very frustrating that we’re being excluded intentionally by our schools and that’s why it’s very frustrating for us," Krishna said.

Book controversy

Carroll ISD has been at the center of controversy at the start of the latest school year after it reviewed a biography written by the grandson of a slave in order to determine if the book is appropriate for students.

The book in question is "Life So Good," by George Dawson. A Carroll ISD middle school is named after Dawson.

Also at Monday's board meeting, Dawson's grandson, Chris Irvin, addressed the board members about the decision to review the biography.

"What are you so afraid of?" Irving told the board.

In a statement earlier this month, the district said it reviewed the book this summer and determined one chapter about a lynching was not appropriate for students.

“We value his legacy and obviously the school was named after him and we wanted to continue to respect that and teach our students why that campus is named the way it is," Superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter told Irvin Monday. 

"How can we go forward to realize how it’s taught and taught properly so that we can actually get together and sit down and see how it can be taught correctly and it’s not sit there and sugar coat it," Irvin told the board.

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