Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo issued a statement this week that responded to an email by Greenwich Patriots which accused the town of teaching critical race theory in municipal mandatory 'inherent bias' training.
You can read Camillo's response immediately below in italics. The initial email which caused the problem is posted below Camillo's comments.
Below that is a response by Greenwich Patriots to Camillo's statement.
Below that is an exchange between a Greenwich Town employee writing at the direction of Camillo, and a response from Greenwich Patriots.
The reader can judge for himself if Camillo is telling 'alternative facts' in his statement or not.
Finally, a comment by Attorney Lindy Urso on the entire incident.
The following statement was issued Wednesday by Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo
In recent days, an email has been disseminated by a local group calling themselves the Greenwich Patriots. This group has accused the Town of Greenwich of promoting Critical Race Theory through bias training that town employees received a few months ago, reported The Patch.
This baseless and inaccurate accusation refers to the inherent bias training the town has done for its employees for years. This is a practice that every municipality does for their employees and, in fact, some of the training is mandated by the state.
The training does not focus on race, nor ethnicity, or any other particular topic. Instead it focuses on the general issue of bias and how to recognize having it so the town can avoid potentially costly litigation.
Mandated state training for municipal employees is not critical race theory.
The writer representing this group has complained about the $28,000 cost of the training.
Considering the legal fees, judgment awards and potential overall exposure the town could face, if this training helps just one employee avoid an embarrassing and costly situation then it is well worth the cost. Sadly, we see too many tax dollars wasted when one employee misbehaves and it causes a lawsuit to be launched.
As we turn the page on 2022, let us also turn the page on misinformation, incivility and reckless accusations. Instead, let us endeavor to be kind, more tolerant of divergent views and recognize the many things that bring us together as a town. Let’s celebrate all that makes it the wonderful place we all love and call home.
Wishing all a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah as well as a happy and healthy 2023!
Responses were due on September 7, 2022.
According to the RFP, the proposed Inherent Bias training is intended "to provide employees with tools to identify and mitigate the impact of inherent bias they might encounter in the workplace through interactions with colleagues and the public. The training shall increase awareness and implement methods for effectively addressing inherent bias."
Approximately 240-300 Town employees are expected to receive this training. These include fire and police personnel, elected officials, department heads, managers, supervisors, and employees. Some employees are union and others are non union.
The Human Resources Department is leading the efforts, and plans to schedule 8-10 in-person sessions per year with approximately 30-35 people per class. The Town intends to train all Town employees in accordance with "the regulations". The training shall be designed "to help build and sustain an inclusive workplace environment.” It should be noted that the Town currently does not have definitions for inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.
The following requirements are detailed in the RFP:
The Provider shall:
- Develop and deliver the required content on bias and microaggressions
- Work with the Town’s Human Resources Department to coordinate the Inherent Bias Prevention Training, provide evaluations at the end of each session, and document training results
- In-person instructors may use video training aids as part of the classroom instruction
- The prepared content shall be delivered in person by two (2) Trainers
- The Provider shall provide copies of all content and handouts for employees for each training
Training Curriculum: The Provider shall develop and deliver training that covers the following objectives:
- What is bias?
- How do biases develop?
- How do you recognize your biases?
- What are microaggressions?
- Develop skills to recognize bias in themselves
- How it plays out in the workforce (generally)
The bid is for one year of training services, though providers were asked to include the cost of 4 additional, optional years in the response.
Five different companies provided responses to the RFP.
The winning bid from KJR Consulting featured its Managing Unconscious Bias workshop, which falls under the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) practice. KJR promises that its training "challenges each of us to reexamine our psychological identities and reevaluate our understanding of the world we live in” while sticking to two core principles of meeting each participant where they are, and creating a safe space.
The training promises to get to the root of DEI by recognizing where bias appears, and how it impacts thoughts, decisions and interactions. Participants will explore their own unconscious bias and how it impacts their work. And they will delve into what microaggressions are, and their impact on others.
KJR also recommended a role-playing workshop, and suggested the following potential topics: Decoding and Disrupting Systemic Bias; Talking About Race, Bias & Equity (also covers power & privilege); Becoming an Ally: Supporting an Inclusive Culture (with respect to LGBTQ+ identities, gender and sexuality); and Equity-Minded Decision Making.
Additionally, KJR suggested two leadership sessions. The Inclusive Leadership workshop helps leaders develop a commitment to DEI, and to understand the need to be courageous enough to challenge attitudes and practices that are inequitable. The Leadership DEI Toolbox teaches techniques for engaging staff in discussions about DEI, and develops skills to appropriately address DEI issues that arise in the workplace. Participants will discover best practices for managing uncomfortable conversations and gain experiential practice by exploring real-life scenarios.
The Award Letter indicates an initial amount of $28,000 for the contract, and a one-year term that runs from November 1, 2022, to October 31, 2023.
A Town employee declined to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain a copy of the training materials, and alleged that the “materials were not part of the proposal or contract” so they were not subject to FOIA. However, the RFP clearly stated that, “the Provider shall provide copies of all content and handouts for employees for each training” so a second FOIA request was submitted to obtain the materials.
It is unclear what prompted the need to conduct training in critical race theory / DEI concepts for Town of Greenwich employees.
First Selectman Fred Camillo has declined to respond to the question.
We wanted to share an email exchange that you might find interesting, especially in light of First Selectman Fred Camillo’s statement on the Inherent Bias / DEI training that is being implemented for Town employees.
Camillo said the claim that Inherent Bias / DEI training is tied to critical race theory is “baseless and inaccurate” without citing evidence. He insisted that the "training does not focus on race” despite the fact that the Director of Human Resources said, "race may certainly be one aspect that is considered in this training."
As a reminder, our article was based on documents provided from the Town as the result of a public records request. Links to all of the documents were included so one could easily confirm the veracity of the information provided. We directly quoted from the documents as much as possible to ensure we correctly reflected their contents. Lastly, we passed no judgment on the training nor on the cost of the training in the article — we merely presented the facts learned from the records request.
So that leaves many people wondering…
Why would Camillo insinuate it was "misinformation, incivility and reckless accusations” when all we did was report facts about a training that he apparently supports?
BTW - Have you ever looked up “inherent bias and critical race theory” on Google Scholar? The very first result is the book Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado, who is considered to be one of the founders of CRT. An excerpt from the book’s preface is attached.
On Mon, Dec 19, 2022 at 11:51 AM xxx wrote:
First Selectman Camillo asked that I respond to your email to him regarding the Town’s Inherent Bias Training.
The Town of Greenwich has been employing Inherent Bias Training in one form or another for a number of years. Inherent Bias is not Critical Race Theory.
As you are aware, as an employer, the Town is legally and ethically required to provide a safe and non-hostile work environment for its employees. To that end, certain training, e.g., Sexual Harassment Prevention, is actually mandated by the State of Connecticut. In addition, the Town provides a variety of training programs to ensure the professionalism of its staff in their interactions both with each other and with the public they serve.
Inherent Bias Training assists individuals in recognizing possible biases that can exist so as to prevent those biases from interfering with professional conduct. While race may certainly be one aspect that is considered in this training, it is in no way the main or only focus. For example, recognizing and preventing bias based on gender is also an aspect of the training.
I hope this information addresses your concerns.
Director of Human Resources
Date: Mon, Dec 19, 2022, 3:20 PM
Subject: Re: Inherent Bias Training
Cc: Camillo, Fred
I appreciate you reaching out to me.
It seems that my understanding of what comprises the tenets of critical race theory (CRT) differ from yours.
Mine are more closely aligned with the views espoused in The Greenwich Sentinel article, The Road is Paved With Good Intentions. Specifically, the article states that the "basic beliefs of anti-racism / CRT" are as follows:
1. America was founded in racism and is today a systemically racist and white supremacist country (e.g., the 1619 Project)
2. All whites are innately, subconsciously, and uncontrollably racists (e.g., implicit bias)
3. Our laws and systems, having been written by racist whites, are therefore racist (e.g., systemic racism)
4. All disparities in outcome measured by race are proof of the above (e.g., police brutality)
5. Because of the above we must institutionalize race-based thinking (Kendi)
This training is about implicit (aka "inherent") bias.
It's also about microagressions -- a term coined in the 1970s by Harvard University professor Chester Pierce to describe the subtle, everyday ways that Black people experienced discrimination from their white counterparts. That's also systemic racism.
So do you see how this could be interpreted as training in the tenets of CRT?
Additionally, one of the documents that I received in response to a public records request indicated that the Town has previously done Implicit Bias training just for Town Leaders, but not for all Town employees. Are you suggesting that the information is not correct, and that the Town has been doing Implicit Bias training for all Town employees for longer?
Thanks so much for clarifying.