The only Black board member of the Litchfield Elementary School District in Phoenix, Arizona, has resigned, citing mistreatment.
Even though the district’s student body is comprised of about 60 percent students of color, Dr. Tara Armstead, a Black woman, was the only racial minority on the board up until her resignation.
“I can no longer be a part of this sinking ship,” she said.
At a Tuesday evening meeting, Armstead said she had been mistreated during her short time on the board.
“Armstead explained, for the five months I have been here I have been treated like I am not an expert in the field and like I have no idea what I’m talking about.” Armstead obtained a master’s degree in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University in 2012 and earned a doctor of education degree in organizational leadership and development from Grand Canyon University in 2019, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Armstead told 12News she believes that “expressing the truth about what happens to us as Black individuals, Hispanic individuals, in these environments” made people “uncomfortable.”
As white students became the minority in the district for the first time, the district released an equity statement earlier this year to address racial differences among students, although the statement sparked controversy.
The goals named in the statement included teacher training on race and diversity, reducing disproportionate discipline for Black students, and reviewing the English curriculum for cultural competency.
Some parents accused the district of promoting critical race theory, an intellectual movement that dictates that race is a social construct used to oppress people of color. The district announced in April that it would be revising the equity goals following backlash from the community.
“Is is clear that the goals that were presented at the March 2021 Governing Board meeting need revision,” Superintendent Jodi Gunning wrote. “We will continue gathering feedback through the end of the school year and will share revised goals this summer.”
Armstead also said other board members blamed her for the spread of COVID-19 at the school.
“That was on Monday night, when I got text messages from two individuals in the community that it was my fault for their child being exposed to other students with COVID, and it was my fault for the increase in COVID cases in the district, and at that point I said I can’t do this anymore,” Armstead said.
Gunning also acknowledged Armstead’s departure in a statement, but did not address her claims about mistreatment, saying, “We are grateful for our governing board members who commit their time and energy to support nearly 11,000 students and nearly 1,400 employees. We thank Dr. Armstead for her service and wish her all the best.”