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Mom of Bullied Daughter Says California Schools Taught Kids to Be ‘Ashamed That We’re White’

Brad Jones

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Celeste Fiehler says her daughter was bullied, called racial slurs, and beaten in middle school, and her children are now “ashamed that we’re white” due to “indoctrination” in the California school system.

Fiehler, 40, is married with four children in the public school system and one in college. She is one of several local parents in La Quinta, California, who have spoken out against critical race theory (CRT) being taught in California schools.

The local Desert Sands Unified School District (DSUSD) will offer a new ethnic studies course in the fall, and Fiehler is worried it will include CRT and racial ideas pushed by the California Teachers Association that promote concepts like “divorcing the default of whiteness,” which she sees as racism towards white people.

“It’s disgusting. It’s full-on racist. It’s so sad,” Fiehler told The Epoch Times.

CRT stems from Marxist ideology, which focuses on class struggle between the “bourgeois” and the “proletariat.” But CRT adds a controversial racial component by focusing on the struggle between white “oppressors” and “oppressed” other races.

The theory has gained support among many left-wing activist groups, academia, and government in recent years. But over the past few months, parents have increasingly spoken out against CRT teachings they claim are hidden under the guise of “ethnic studies” and other euphemisms. Several states have banned CRT in public schools and other government institutions.

In response, the largest teachers union in the U.S., the National Educators Association (NEA), recently approved a resolution stating that CRT is “reasonable and appropriate” to teach to K-12 students. The group plans to “publicize” CRT and has dedicated staff to “fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric.”

Epoch Times Photo
Parents Kimberly Hetherington Cataño (F) Celeste Fiehler (C) and Faustina Sevilla wear #FightForFall shirts in La Quinta, Calif., on June 16, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Bullying at School

A few years ago, Fiehler says her then 12-year-old daughter was bullied at school in the Desert Sands Unified School District (DSUSD). Fiehler says she was beaten at least six times.

The bullies also allegedly followed her home from school every day for a year and hurled racial slurs at her, sometimes in Spanish, such as “stupid white girl,” “white Dora” (since she had bangs like the television character Dora the Explorer), and “rat.”

Fiehler wondered if her daughter was targeted for the color of her skin when she heard the bullies’ verbal attacks. She said district officials assured her the bullying began as a squabble over “boys.” But then it escalated into name-calling, racial slurs, mean-spirited texts, social media attacks, and physical violence, she said.

And when the bullies found out her stepfather worked in law enforcement, they harassed her about that, too.

“They constantly texted her to kill herself,” Fiehler said. “My daughter tried to hang herself.”

Fiehler says she went to district officials to put a stop to the bullying, but “the school did nothing,” despite a “zero tolerance” policy. She also claims she found out her daughter’s school counselor was the grandmother of the “head bully,” and the mother was a principal at one of the high schools.

After her daughter’s suicide attempt, Fiehler decided in 2019 the best option was to pull her daughter out of the school and send her to live with her father in Nevada.

“We are a blended family,” she said.

Her daughter, now 15, is back in California and will return to the same school district in the fall.

School District’s Response

Citing federal privacy laws, Mary Perry, DSUSD’s public information officer, told The Epoch Times via email that the district couldn’t respond to questions about individual students.

According to Perry, an unnamed “senior level administrator” responding to questions said that when anyone reports a concern over alleged bullying, a full investigation is to be conducted, and based on the findings, “appropriate actions” including “possible disciplinary action, peer mediation, restorative practices, and counseling” are to be taken. All students involved are to receive ongoing monitoring and support.

The administrator stated, “we are not aware of these allegations” in response to inquiries about the alleged bullying and attacks on Fiehler’s daughter.

However, Fiehler says she has video and other documentary evidence, she filed police reports, and that DSUSD Superintendent Scott Bailey and Assistant Superintendent Laura Fisher are aware of the situation.

The Epoch Times obtained video of Fiehler’s daughter being followed home from school. In another video clip, her daughter is seen in a grassy area with her hands in her pockets, backing away from another girl, who then pushes her, and they both fall to the ground struggling, while a crowd of students laugh and shout.

“She has her hands in her sweater. She backs up in all the videos. She’s saying, ‘I don’t want to fight you. I don’t want to fight you,’ and they just attack her,” Fiehler said.

DSUSD officials said they were also unaware Fiehler’s daughter was harassed about her stepfather’s job.

‘Something Was Wrong’

Last year, during the school closures at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fiehler was helping another daughter in seventh grade at the same school with her online studies when a slide popped up on her screen asking if she was a Republican or a Democrat.

The next slide showed two photos: one of football players kneeling for the flag and national anthem and one of baseball players standing. Students were asked, “Which do you support?”

The questions were asked in a homeroom “zero period,” Fiehler said.

“That’s when I knew that something was wrong,” Fiehler said. “I needed to dig a little deeper into why these questions were being asked to seventh graders in a class that didn’t have anything to do with government.”

The senior level administrator did not respond to specific questions about whether it’s appropriate to ask seventh-grade students which political party they support, or whether they support standing for the national anthem or taking a knee.

The unnamed official stated that board policy allows “instruction related to controversial issues that may arouse strong reactions based on personal values and beliefs, political philosophy, culture, religion, or other influences,” but that such topics must be “relevant to the adopted course of study.”

The administrator denied that CRT is included in the elective ethnic studies course being offered in the fall.

Fiehler said she asked to see the curriculum for the course, but claims Assistant Superintendent Kelly May-Vollmar told her the program was still being developed so the district couldn’t share it with her.

According to Fiehler, May-Vollmar told her the curriculum covers five areas of study, including African American, Asian American, Native American, and Latino American studies, and the fifth area would be open for individual teachers to decide.

“The curriculum is under development and parent information nights will be hosted this summer at each high school for those interested in exploring the curriculum and providing feedback,” the statement read.

The California Department of Education approved the state’s 900-page ethnic studies model curriculum in March after four years, four drafts, and more than 100,000 public comments, according to the district.

Division in the Home

Fiehler blames the schools, the media, and “soft journalism” for allowing her children to be gradually brainwashed with leftist propaganda, even outside any ethnic studies program.

“We try to have conversations with them, and they get so upset that our views are different than theirs,” she said.

“They think as white students they should ‘divorce their whiteness’ … that they should be ashamed of who they are, because it’s oppressing the other student next to them,” she said. “They’re ashamed that we’re white. They don’t say that, but they say how wrong the United States is because it was founded on racism.”

“It’s impacted my family because we can’t even have dinner together at the same table. I find myself having to be quiet about the news in my house,” she said. “In my house … we can’t play certain news channels. … My kids will huff and puff and say, ‘Why are you watching this?’ or act irritated at us.”

However, Fiehler’s previously bullied daughter has become more of a “self-thinker,” she said.

“I believe it’s because she was removed from public school, and enrolled in a homeschool that was about ‘going back to basics,'” she said.

Fiehler urged more parents to get more involved in their children’s education and not allow them to be influenced by video games, electronic devices, and what’s trending on social media.

Pandora’s Box

Fiehler was so frustrated with the local school district that she ran for the school board in 2020, and although she was defeated, she said the experience was an eye-opener.

“I ran just as a parent. I didn’t know what I was going up against. I went up against the teachers’ union. During my campaign, I started realizing just how deep the teachers’ union is involved in politics,” she said. “They did anything they could to keep a parent off the school board. It opened Pandora’s Box for me.”

Since then, Fiehler and other parents have launched a grassroots “#Fight For Fall” campaign opposing and exposing as much as they can about leftist ideas and CRT in the school system.

“We’re trying to block all of this stuff,” she said.

Fiehler joined the Parent Union and is now the group’s Riverside County ambassador.

“We need … a parents’ voice for parents’ choice. And, and because we don’t have that we are being shut out by politicians the teachers’ unions.”

The Parent Union, founded by Cecilia “Ceci” Iglesias, an elected trustee to the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD), advocates for school choice and opposes CRT.

Many other parents have noticed a drastic shift in their children’s attitudes over the past few years, Fiehler said.

“I speak to many families where the parents cry to me and say, ‘I never taught my kid to be like this.’”