After discussing their concerns with the board of directors regarding what they called a “rapid change in the curriculum” at Charlotte Latin School in North Carolina, parents Doug and Nicole Turpin say their 11- and 13-year-old children became the targets of the headmaster’s retaliation when they were expelled last fall.
“They were humiliated,” Doug Turpin, father of the two children, told The Epoch Times. “They were ordered, without even knowing why, to clean out their lockers and were permanently removed from the school.”
Now, some parents are seeking to restore the private school’s former transparency and working relationship between parents and teachers that they said had deteriorated since 2020.
Parents became aware that there were changes in the school’s philosophy that took place during COVID restrictions when teacher-parent interactions were suspended.
At his son’s 5th grade graduation ceremony in May 2021, Turpin said parents were able to meet for the first time in months.
“At the ceremony, we finally got to talk with other parents and many of us were alarmed by what we were hearing,” Turpin said. “We began to meet in June to compare notes and come up with a strategy to try to engage in dialog with the board of directors about the changes.”
The changes were a “dramatic departure” from that what had been previously taught at the school, Turpin said.
Among those changes were incorporating an “age-inappropriate curriculum and pornographic reading material” found in the K-12 library while injecting highly politicalized material into the classroom, although the school had previously said it was nonpolitical.
Sixty parents formed the group “Refocused Latin” to meet and address the issues. Upon invitation from the vice-chair of the board, they presented their arguments in a PowerPoint on Aug. 24, Turpin said.
“We were promised that there would be no retaliation allowed for this feedback,” Turpin said.
However, the school’s headmaster, Charles Baldecchi, put out a video on Sept. 6 attacking the group and calling the PowerPoint “just awful,” and he said the presentation was inaccurate.
In the video, Baldecchi said that the way Sonja Taylor—assistant head of school for the K-12 Curriculum and Instruction, Equity, and Strategic Initiatives—was portrayed in the PowerPoint “is despicable,” though Turpin later said, “we simply listed her background and asked questions about her promotion to assistant head of school, without a job search, as well as about the direction of the school.”
On Sept. 10, Turpin, who said he was suspicious of its intent, recorded the meeting between him, Baldecchi, and the middle-school principal, Todd Ballaban, during which Turpin was told his children would be expelled.
Turpin said he recorded the meeting to protect his family from possible slander.
In the meeting, Baldecchi said the PowerPoint alleged that the school “was hiring folks of color that did not meet standards,” which Turpin said wasn’t true.
“You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own set of facts,” Turpin said in the transcript.
Turpin offered to get the presentation out for Baldecchi to find where the accusation was written, though Baldecchi declined, Turpin said.
“It was one of many fabrications Baldecchi made about the group that he just made up to slander us,” Turpin said.
After Refocused Latin’s presentation, Turpin alleged that his son began to experience retaliation when one of the teachers refused to let him go to the bathroom during a two-hour class or to pull his mask down to drink water.
When Turpin complained to Ballaban, he said he would investigate with the teacher.
Instead of a resolution, Baldecchi and Ballaban scheduled the Sept. 10 meeting with Turpin, during which he was told that his son’s report wasn’t true.
Turpin’s son also said his teacher told the class that because Republicans support voter identification laws, they are white supremacists evocative of the Jim Crow era.
In the transcript, Ballaban said that in his investigation the teacher said she didn’t bring up Republicans.
Turpin said that he “has a hard time believing this is true,” because he said his son isn’t political, so he couldn’t fabricate connections between voter ID laws, Jim Crow, and Republicans.
Charlotte Latin was founded in 1970, according to Turpin, in reaction to radicalized teachings that had emerged in the 1960s. The school’s founders sought to return to traditional instruction methods, such as the teaching of Latin, and to refocus on math, science, and English skills.
In a video series Taylor put out with Baldecchi in 2020, Taylor argued that the school was founded as a means of “white flight” to give white parents a place to take their kids to a school exempt from desegregation laws; however, at the school’s onset, it integrated minority children.
The video series became controversial with parents and is what initiated parents to begin questioning the school’s agenda.
A Culture of Fear
Turpin’s essential argument is that Baldecchi violated school policy by effectively shutting down open dialogue between parents and the school by expelling his children.
“Baldecchi wanted to silence the movement that was bubbling up with parents,” Turpin said. “The message was, ‘If you complain, you’re next.’ And that was received loud and clear by both parents and faculty.”
By expelling Turpin’s children, he created a “culture of fear,” Turpin said.
He’s suing Baldecchi for breach of the enrollment agreement, infliction of emotional distress, slander, and defamation.
Baldecchi countered in the Sept. 10 meeting that it was Turpin who was in breach of enrollment by not maintaining a “positive collaborative working relationship between the school and the student’s parents.”
After a back and forth of emails in October, Board Chair Denny O’Leary ultimately told Turpin that, according to school policy, it’s under Baldecchi’s authority to determine whether a relationship between parents and the school align with school policy and that the board would refuse to review Baldecchi’s decision, despite its promise to prevent any retaliation against any of the parents in Refocus Latin.
Turpin continued to try to engage the board, he said, to no avail.
When reached for comment, Charlotte Latin said, “The decision to separate from a family is never taken lightly; it is a step taken only when it is absolutely necessary. Out of respect for our families and as a matter of policy, we do not provide details about students—present or former.”
Among Turpin’s current goals as listed on his website www.honoraboveall.org is to have Baldecchi removed as headmaster and to reestablish transparency and dialog in the school’s relationship with parents, teachers, and the school’s curriculum.
Reports of the disintegration between the parent-teacher relationship have been reported nationwide, leaving many arguing about who really has a voice in what children are being taught in school.
Agendas of Critical Race Theory
Refocused Latin’s PowerPoint refers to curriculums evocative of critical race theory (CRT), the quasi-Marxist philosophy that defines society as a class struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed, specifically labeling white people as the oppressors and all other races as the oppressed.
Much of the focus on CRT has been on public schools that take government funding and therefore involve a partnership among the taxpayer/parent, the school, and state and local government.
Though private schools have autonomy in what they teach, there remains a parent and teacher collaboration that Turpin said has been violated.
According to James Lindsay—author and critic of CRT whose platform New Discourses contains podcasts on the origins and current impacts of the ideology—CRT is at its core a means of control.
“Critical race theory literally just means calling everything you want to control racist until you control it,” Lindsay said in his podcast, ‘Five Key Points to Understand About Critical Race Theory.’”
In practice, Lindsay said CRT puts race at the center of every component of life.
According to its theorists, Lindsay said, “Racism is present in everything, and it needs to be found and interrogated and to call everything racist until it conforms to exactly what your views are as a critical race theorist,” Lindsay said. “Do you really want this in schools? Do you want to teach your kids to think this way, that if you just see something in the world you wish you could have command over, all you have to do is call it racist until everybody backs off and you have total control over it?”
According to this depiction of the CRT agenda, arguments against the use of CRT are doomed to fail because of the theory’s inherently subjective angle and refusal to hear another side.
Baldecchi stated in the Sept. 6 video that Refocused Latin’s mission was a “lost cause,” and if staff hear of more complaints from parents to bring them to him.
The CRT argument for “honest history,” Lindsay said, is disingenuous in its striving to control the conversation and power in society using a format modeled after communism that seeks to fictionalize the structure of reality to tilt power in the direction of those who control the narrative.
CRT presumes to read minds and intentions, Lindsay said, and conclude that one’s intentions are always racist.
When incorporated into schools, it doesn’t identify itself as CRT but uses euphemisms such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, Lindsay said.
Historically, those who implemented it relied on the manipulation of children, such as former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong with his “Cultural Revolution” in which he had youth trained to destroy the “four olds”: old customs, cultures, habits, and ideas.
A resemblance of these methods can be found in the classroom today through CRT-trained instructors indoctrinating students with ideologies that create division between the children and the parents, thus splitting up the family unit—one of the means of control found in Mao’s blueprint for the revolution.
These curriculums are often handed down by special interest nonprofits, Lindsay has said in previous interviews, and they come at the expense of math, science, English, and all other instruction.
When asked what the biggest tragedy of CRT in schools is, Lindsay said it’s not the division it creates, but the resources it drains.
“Time is not about algebra anymore but is instead about using an algebraic concept to talk about critical race theory, which is a moment not teaching algebra, which is already hard enough,” Lindsay said. “So, there is a tremendous learning loss.”
‘My Kids Did Absolutely Nothing Wrong’
For Turpin, it all comes down to his children, he said, who now have an unjust expulsion in their record he’s seeking to have expunged.
“My kids did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said. “They were punished solely because parents wanted to be involved in their children’s education. Regardless of what side you come down on regarding any of the issues we raised, we think it is unconscionable to expel young children from the only school they have ever known, simply because you wish to silence a group of parents asking for dialog.”