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Oyster River, Hanover, and Concord School Districts Denounce 'Divisive Concepts' Bill

Oyster River High School in Durham.
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The Oyster River School District is the first district in the state to sign onto a public letter opposing House Bill 544.

The bill would deny state funding to any businesses, schools, or organizations that spread “divisive concepts,” including teaching about systemic racism and sexism and holding certain kinds of diversity and anti-racism trainings.

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The bill has received significant pushback, including from New Hampshire businesses, non-profits, and colleges. A letter opposing the bill from New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility includes major employers like Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, Pete and Gerry's Organics, and Southern New Hampshire University.

The Oyster River School District has grappled with racism, including a high-profile incident of racist bullying in 2017. So far, it is the only public school district to sign on to the letter, though members of school communities have testified against it during legislative proceedings.

[Bill Aims To Ban Teaching About Systemic Racism; Doctor Calls It 'Wolf In Sheep's Clothing']

On Monday, the Concord School Board also approved a resolution in opposition to HB 544.

“As a school district, we encourage students to critically analyze the world around them and learn the ways sexism and racism are interwoven into our systems and cultures, so that as a community, we can work together to end the cycles of these inequities,” it read.

SAU 70, which covers Dresden, Hanover, and Norwich, alsopassed a resolutionopposing the bill. 

Related Coverage: More N.H. School Districts Voice Opposition to 'Divisive Concepts' Bill


Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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