Tiger Craven-Neeley, an elementary school teacher in the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD), found himself on administrative leave after publicly criticizing the district’s investment in a controversial “Woke Kindergarten” program. Craven-Neeley, a teacher at Glassbrook Elementary School, was reportedly asked to hand over his keys and laptop and stay away from his classroom until further notice.

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Who is Tiger Craven-Neeley? 

Tiger Craven-Neeley (x/@stjbs)

The move came shortly after Craven-Neeley voiced his concerns about the “Woke Kindergarten” program, which the school district had hired to train educators. The program, funded with $250,000 in federal funds meant to improve test scores in low-performing schools, has faced scrutiny after two years of implementation reportedly resulted in a decline in student scores.

The “Woke Kindergarten” program, described on its website as advocating for abolitionist early education and pro-black and queer and trans liberation, has drawn criticism for its unconventional approach to teaching. Craven-Neeley revealed that trainers from the program encouraged him to “disrupt Whiteness” in his classroom, a directive he found puzzling and concerning.

The situation escalated during a staff meeting where tensions ran high. Craven-Neeley alleges that a fellow teacher pointed a finger at him, accusing him of being a disgrace and a danger to the school before storming out of the room. Following the meeting, Craven-Neeley was informed via email that he was being placed on leave pending an investigation into allegations of unprofessional conduct.

In response to inquiries, HUSD spokesperson Michael Bazeley declined to comment on specific personnel matters but denied that Craven-Neeley’s leave was retaliatory or aimed at stifling his freedom of speech. However, he acknowledged that Glassbrook Elementary has received numerous threatening messages in the wake of the controversy.

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The incident has sparked a broader debate about the role of “Woke” education initiatives and the limits of free speech within the education system. Craven-Neeley’s case highlights the challenges faced by educators who speak out against controversial programs, raising questions about academic freedom and accountability within school districts. As the investigation unfolds, stakeholders await further developments in this contentious issue.