NewsTreasure CoastRegion Indian River County


School Board of Indian River County discusses African-American history standards

'I think they've been biased and they're trying to change it to a way that's been filtered,' Benny Rhyant says
Posted at 11:59 PM, Sep 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-26 08:40:18-04

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Parents, advocates and community members brought their concerns about new African-American history standards to the School District of Indian River County.

"How do you feel the School District of Indian River County has been handling this so far?" asked WPTV reporter Joel Lopez.

"I think they've been biased and they're trying to change it to a way that's been filtered, and the actual truth is not being presented," advocate Benny Rhyant said.

He, along with others, is asking for the board to stand up against the Florida Department of Education.

"This is an insult to not only black children but any child with any intelligence, for somebody to sit there and present them with an education plan like this," Rhyant said.

"We are a majority-minority district, basically, and we are here to serve all of our students," School Board Chair Dr. Peggy Jones said.

Jones said she listens to everyone's concerns and plans to fight for what's best for the students of Indian River County.

Benny Rhyant an advocate African American history.jpg
Advocate Benny Rhyant explains his concerns about the African American history standards.

"Education of children is a fundamental value of the people in the state of Florida," Jones said. "It is therefore a paramount duty in the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its border."

Jones said she, along with other board members, has written a letter to the Florida Department of Education.

They said they have received a letter back, which states that this is the first time in Florida history that African-American history standards will be a standalone strain.

The board moved the discussion on African-American history standards up in the meeting to give enough time for everyone to comment.

In the audience, were members of Moms for Liberty of Indian River County, who said there's nothing wrong with the standards.

"There's a lot there that I didn't know about that I'd probably just look at those standards and go back and do my own personal study because I'm interested in," Thomas Kenny, the policy media director for Indian River County Moms for Liberty, said.

Indian River County Moms for Liberty policy media director Thomas Kenny.png
Indian River County Moms for Liberty policy media director Thomas Kenny explains why he would like to meet with the NAACP to discuss the new standards.

He said he's waiting to hear back from the Indian River Chapter of the NAACP for a meeting to discuss the topic.

"What would you like that conversation to be like between you guys?" asked Lopez.

"Just see where their heads are at and have a conversation," Kenny said. "I don't know everything and neither do they, and together we'll learn something."

Jones said she has concerns about the new standards and wants clarification from the Department of Education.

"I talked about the wording and how you can change just a few words to make it all-inclusive and everybody kind of agreeing to something," said Vice Chair Teri Barenborg, who also sent a letter and said she got a response letter from the governor's office. "I think it's a matter of tweaking."