PUBLISHED: 02:25 EDT, 3 May 2021 | UPDATED: 04:46 EDT, 3 May 2021
Candidates opposed to teaching 'critical race theory' in the classroom have swept a local school board election in Texas, following a bitterly contested campaign that saw passions rise on both sides.
In Saturday's election in Southlake, candidates opposed to the new curriculum won the two open seats on the Carroll Independent School District board overwhelmingly, with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
The election followed a harsh dispute over plans the district introduced last summer to require diversity and inclusion training after a video went viral showing some of its high school students laughing as they shouted the N-word.
Parents packed school board meetings to oppose the plan, arguing it would create 'diversity police' and discriminate against white children. Some even pulled their kids out of the district, and one mother sued, pausing the plan's implementation.
In Saturday's election in Southlake, candidates opposed to 'critical race theory' won the two open seats on the Carroll Independent School District board overwhelmingly
In Saturday's election, the result was a landslide, with candidates backed by the conservative Southlake Families PAC winning every race by a nearly 40-point margin, according to Southlake Style.
In addition to the two seats up for election on the school board, conservative candidates swept the elections for mayor and two open city council seats.
Voter turnout for the election shattered participation records for a local race in Southlake.
The results, which come amid a national debate about lessons on race in the classroom, were as a victory for parents who view critical race theory (CRT) as damaging and divisive. But the outcome was a bitter disappointment for those who view CRT as vital to fighting racism.
CRT is a theoretical framework which views society as dominated by white supremacy, and categorizes people as 'privileged' or 'oppressed' based on their skin color.
In one school board race, Hannah Smith, a Southlake lawyer who clerked for Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, defeated Ed Hernandez, a business consultant.
'This election was a referendum on those who put personal politics and divisive philosophies ahead of Carroll ISD students and families and their common American heritage and Texas values,' Smith said in a statement on Facebook.
'The voters have come together in record-breaking numbers to restore unity,' she added. 'By a landslide vote, they don't want racially divisive critical race theory taught to their children or forced on their teachers. Voters agreed with my positive vision of our community and its future.'
Hernandez, an immigrant from Mexico, told NBC News that he was distraught at the message the election sends to students who came forward with stories of racist and anti-gay bullying.
'I don't want to think about all these kids that shared their stories, their testimonies,' Hernandez told the outlet.
'I don't want to think about that right now, because it's really, really hard for me. I feel really bad for all those kids, every single one of them that shared a story. I don't have any words for them,' he said.
For the other open board seat, Cameron 'Cam' Bryan, a civil engineer who coaches youth football, defeated Lynda Warner, an organizational psychologist who served as a classroom volunteer.
'I'm humbled to have earned your trust, confidence, and votes. I'm looking forward to rolling-up my sleeves and getting to work soon,' Bryan said in a Facebook post. For her part, Warner extended an olive branch in her concession statement, urging the community to come together and support the new school board.
'While I am sad to not come out of this race as the victor, I have comfort in knowing qualified and virtuous people are holding seats in the Carroll ISD Board of Trustees,' Warner wrote. 'Cam is a proud Southlake resident, a supporter of the community and CISD, and has impressive qualifications that will help guide CISD through this challenging period,' she continued.
'I urge all Southlake residents who supported me to join me in not only congratulating him but extending best wishes in his efforts to bring our community together and find compromise when needed, to build bridges within the community, and continue the proud tradition that is Carroll ISD.'