Daniel Concannon

CONCANNON

The coordinator of Northwest Elementary’s after-school program abruptly quit Monday, denouncing a Manchester training program that he said endorses dehumanization and hatred of Whites.

In an interview, Daniel Concannon, 40, said he had complained about the staff training to the school district’s human resources director and the Manchester school board to no avail.

“My issue is an open, anti-White sentiment. It is aggressive and it is explicitly anti-White,” said Concannon, 40.

His is the latest salvo in an ongoing controversy over how public schools approach topics of privilege and racism, which came to the fore in New Hampshire recently in a battle over state legislation that would have barred instruction of Critical Race Theory.

Last week, Gov. Chris Sununu signed an alternative version of the measure, which was attached to budget legislation.

In March, Concannon brought a harassment complaint against the district, claiming the mandatory training amounted to harassment. In response to the complaint, Manchester school officials said they clarified with employees that the training is not mandatory.

“The District embraces this process of critical thinking, not necessarily the ideas or opinions of individual authors,” district officials said in response to Concannon’s complaint. In January, the Manchester school board adopted an equity policy to help employees develop critical racial, ethnic and cultural competence, the district said.

Concannon CC’d his June 28 resignation letter to many, including the school board, which is headed by Mayor Joyce Craig.

In a statement, Craig said school district officials secured their network and buildings after receiving Concannon’s resignation letter.

She said the school district is limited in what it can say publicly. The New Hampshire Union Leader has asked to review documents that would shed light on Concannon’s complaints to school officials, citing Supreme Court decisions that have opened up personnel matters to public scrutiny.

The after-school program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.

Candidate responses

Craig’s two mayoral challengers issued statements about the issue.

Victoria Sullivan, a former state representative and PTA president, said no school employee or student should face discrimination in school buildings.

“The fact that 21st CCLC would feel empowered to bring in these divisive concepts is the same reason our schools are failing — lack of leadership under Mayor Joyce Craig,” Sullivan said.

Richard Girard, a former school board member and candidate for mayor, thanked Concannon for confronting a “woke mob” seeking to indoctrinate students in racist ways of thinking.

“As Mr. Concannon points out, this training isn’t about educating people about racism. It’s about accusing people of being racist based solely on the color of their skin,” Girard said.

He called on Craig to release all the training materials referenced by Concannon. In an email, Craig chief of staff Lauren Smith said the mayor does not have the authority over the trainings and encouraged a reporter to contact the school district for the material.

Concannon, who said he had held his job for seven years, earned about $30,700 last year, according to the school district.

The training, according to Concannon:

Used the term “whiteness” 18 times, which he said felt dehumanizing.

Included a slide that read “Whiteness in Power.”

Included a newspaper column by Deepa Iyer critical of the Trump administration.

Included references to Peggy McIntosh’s 1988 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” McIntosh wrote that being White was like having “unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day.”

Encouraged educators to discuss strategies with Black and other minority students about how to correct fellow students who mispronounce their names.

Concannon said that the name activity accuses students who mispronounce names of being unwitting racists. Actually, it says Native Americans and minorities often saw their names shortened in the past to make them easy to pronounce, which the text termed a “type of racism.”

Parting shots

Concannon said he loved his job. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program provides after-school activities for more than 100 kids at Northwest, the most among Manchester schools.

He also ran a similar summer program, which would have started July 5.

He said he is a New Hampshire resident and graduate of the University of New Hampshire. He has held similar jobs in private schools, he said.

In an interview, Concannon said he does not object to discussing racism in school — but not anti-White ideology.

His resignation letter closes with: “I leave you with the only verbal response befitting any attempt at anti-White indoctrination: (----) you. Diversely, equitably, and inclusively yours.”

He said he will eventually find a job, one that does not require “self-hatred.”

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