21st Century Program Coordinator resigns, citing ‘white privilege training’

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Handwriting on the wall inside the Manchester School District offices. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – On Monday, Northwest Elementary School 21st Century Program Coordinator Dan Concannon resigned, citing “white privilege training” from the Learning for Justice organization.

In his letter (see below), offered his two-week notice from the part-time position, although expected the Manchester School District to relieve him of his position immediately.

Concannon was hired in October 2014 and was paid $30,732.95 a year by the school district.

Concannon also provided public comment to the Manchester Board of School Committee regarding his frustration that the Manchester School District is mandating the “white privilege” training for district employees, something he believes violates the district’s harassment policy.

“I’m extremely disappointed. I’ve never seen such an outlandish response,” said Manchester Board of School Committee Vice Chairman Leslie Want to Manchester Ink Link

Manchester School District Communication Coordinator Andrew Tolland released the following statement.

“This is a pending personnel matter, and as such Manchester School District is limited in our ability to comment. Upon receipt of this resignation letter, we took action to secure access to our network and buildings, and we are taking all appropriate steps in response to the resignation.”

The Manchester Board of School Committee has meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday night. This story will be updated with any additional information as it becomes available.

UPDATE: While he did not mention Concannon, BOSC Member Jeremy Dobson (Ward 5), referenced the letter and the welcoming of Manchester School District Equity Officer Tina Kim Philibotte earlier in the meeting by chastising those attempting to use Critical Race Theory for political ends during the new business section of Monday’s BOSC Meeting.

Dobson noted that Critical Race Theory was developed in the 1980s as a way to examine why African-Americans still face racism in American society despite advancement over the years and saw discussion of it now as little more than a way to get certain individuals out to the polls that he would not name.

“Don’t buy into the hype please, our diversity in our city is what makes us stronger and it’s truly something to get people out to vote, it means nothing as its construed as and it’s not being used correctly,”

After BOSC Member Dan Bergeron (Ward 6) stated that voting is a good thing, Bergeron amended his statement, stating that it was being used as a method of hatred and division.

In a statement to Manchester Ink Link, Concannon said that he also submitted a more serious letter regarding his concerns, but felt that the letter that garnered attention earlier in the day was not truly a parody or sarcastic as he felt that the things he opposed were a parody in themselves.

To sum up, my Letter of Resignation is what Manchester School District deserves. I’m glad it’s catching people’s attention and I hope that it motivates people to stop allowing themselves to be dehumanized by anti-White hatred,” he said.

Manchester School District Equity Officer Tina Kim Philibotte on June 28, 2021. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

UPDATE 6/29/21: Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt released the following statement on Tuesday afternoon.

I’m writing to you today to directly address an incident in our school district. By now, you may have heard of the resignation of a site coordinator for 21st Century at Northwest Elementary. This resignation came in the form of an extremely inappropriate letter, which was sent Monday morning. 

I will not rehash this now-former employee’s grievances in this message — you can find background information on the situation here. In short, the complaint derived from a training session for staff designed to foster critical thinking about race. As we see debates on these issues on the state, local and national stages, I want to reiterate the values of our district, and emphasize that the words and actions of this former staff member are not reflective of the District as a whole.

I believe it’s important that I make several things very clear to our staff, families and students. 

First, I must assure you that we take the safety of our students extremely seriously. To begin with, all staff members must undergo background checks as required by the state. Further, we follow protocols with the state regarding any complaints against staff members. In the case of this resignation, upon receipt of the letter, we immediately shut down the employee’s access to the building as well as any access to our computer network. 

Second, I will make it abundantly clear that this district values all members of our community regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Our District Equity Policy (Foundations 101) spells this out: “All district students deserve a safe and respectful learning environment that maximizes their potential for success in college, career, and community leadership.” 

I understand that some will agree with this former employee’s sentiments, and it’s important to underscore that the intent of this message is not to make those people feel unwelcome. Rather, the intent is to ensure that everyone knows they are welcome, safe and secure in Manchester schools. We remain squarely focused on equity and highly invested in the success of all of our students.