A Virginia Parent Teacher Association official who received backlash for saying of parents protesting controversial critical race theory (CRT) “let them die” has now stepped down.
The organization made the announcement late last week after Michelle Leete’s comments outside a fiery meeting held by the Fairfax County School Board in which the issue was being discussed.
“Today, the Virginia PTA executive committee requested and received the resignation of Michelle Leete, who served as Vice President of Training,” the Virginia PTA wrote in a statement on Saturday. “While not speaking in her role within the Virginia PTA, we do not condone the choice of words used during a public event on Thursday, July 15, 2021.”
Statement on resignation of VP of Training pic.twitter.com/EZWPPUK6OH
— Virginia PTA (@VirginiaPTA) July 17, 2021
A video posted to Twitter on Thursday captured Leete’s inflammatory remarks which were given to a group outside the school board meeting, where The Washington Post notes that the board was about to vote on policies regarding transgender students.
Virginia’s school board meetings have frequently been in the headlines as of late, as the topics of both transgender students and the teaching of perspectives that align with CRT have caused both adamant support and protests from parents and activists alike.
“So let’s meet and remain steadfast in speaking truth, tearing down double standards and refuting double talk,” Leete said in her heated, now-viral speech. “Let’s not allow any double-downing on lies. Let’s prepare our children for a world they deserve.”
“Let them die,” says @FairfaxNAACP leader Michelle Leete at protest before @fcpsnews board. Folks against critical race theory are here, with protestors including Leete opposing them. It’ll be 🧨 tonight. Watch at https://t.co/KuScNenTVQ pic.twitter.com/Csb5faEYKG
— Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani) July 15, 2021
“Let’s deny this off-key band of people that are anti-education, anti-teacher, anti-equity, anti-history, anti-racial reckoning, anti-opportunities, anti-help people, anti-diversity, anti-platform, anti-science, anti-change agent, anti-social justice, anti-health care, anti-worker, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-children, anti-health care, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-admissions policy change, anti-inclusion, anti-live-and-let-live people. Let them die,” she declared.
It was most certainly this last phrase that captured the most attention and seemed to infuse a strain of hateful violence into an already deeply divisive debate over public school policies and curricula.
In a statement provided to The Washington Post on Friday, Leete explained her intention and also admitted her choice of words was less than ideal.
The now-former PTA leader said that what she wanted to “die” were “the ideals that show a disregard and lack of support for our teachers who have a truly difficult job to do even without a pandemic.”
“I will certainly admit, it was ineloquently stated and with a pause for the applause, the timing was off,” she also said.
Leete, who served as the Virginia PTA vice president of training, the vice president of communications for Fairfax County PTA, and the first vice president for the Fairfax County NAACP, received the emphatic support of the latter upon her resignation.
“We stand firmly by our 1st Vice President and her work in the past, present and future, and are extremely disappointed that her long track record of tireless work and dedication within the Fairfax County community has been so easily disregarded and devalued,” the group said in a statement.
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