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Forsyth County Board of Education sees decline in public participation at regular meetings as strategic planning process continues
Some community members urge school district against accreditation company with stated commitment to 'diversity, equity and inclusion'
Board of Education
The Forsyth County Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden sits in front of a meeting room filled with community members on Tuesday, May 18, when Forsyth County first started to show concern or support for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Several speakers came to speak out about the Forsyth County Schools' Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program once again at the Board of Education's latest regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

Public participation at Forsyth County Board of Education meetings has dropped drastically over the past two months as the school district has begun collecting feedback through focus groups and committees as part of its five-year strategic planning process.

There were five speakers at this latest meeting on Tuesday compared to the dozens who came out just a few months ago to talk directly to board members both for and against the district’s DEI plan, which is part of its five-year Strategic Plan.

This time, however, many spoke against Cognia, formerly AdvancED, the accrediting company working with FCS on its upcoming accreditation. The school system has worked with the company in previous years.

Sean Graham said he did not think the district should work with Cognia because of the company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, which is stated on its website.

“If we go with Cognia, it is mandated regardless of what the people want,” Graham said.

He suggested using a different accrediting company to ensure that the DEI plan does not continue.

An official DEI plan is not listed as a requirement under Cognia’s current standards, but it does outline that leaders should “cultivate and sustain a culture that demonstrated respect, fairness, equity and inclusion and is free from bias.”

Local parent Cindy Martin said companies such as Cognia should not have an impact on areas such as Social and Emotional Learning and DEI in school systems.

“The only purpose an accreditation company should have is ensuring excellent education, yet Cognia clearly states their purpose is not excellent instruction or education but radical ideology,” Martin said.

Many citizens nationwide have spoken against diversity programs in K-12 schools this year, comparing them to Critical Race Theory, which theorizes that different aspects of American life and societal systems are based in discriminatory practices.

Experts across the nation have said, however, that CRT is only taught to law students in upper-level college courses. District leaders have continued to state that they have not and will not teach CRT in the classroom.

For more information on the DEI plan or strategic planning process, visit