Southlake, Texas Holocaust books

Photo: Chelsea Stahl/NBC News

SOUTHLAKE, Texas (WAND) - A leader of a Texas school district called for a balance of books about the Holocaust with those from "opposing" views, according to audio obtained by NBC News

Comments were made by Gina Peddy, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District, which is located in the suburbs near Fort Worth, in a training session regarding which books teachers can have in school libraries. The district had voted four days before this to reprimand a fourth grade teacher who had an anti-racism book in the classroom. 

NBC News obtained the audio, which was secretly recorded by a Carroll staff member during the Friday training. 

“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said about a new Texas law requiring teachers to present multiple perspectives when talking about "widely debated and currently controversial" issues.“And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”

When a teacher asked how the Holocaust can be opposed, Peddy said "believe me, that's come up." 

NBC News made multiple attempts via messages to reach Peddy. She did not respond to requests for comment. 

In a written response, Carroll spokeswoman Karen Fitzgerald said the district is working to help teaches comply with the new Texas law and Texas Senate Bill 3, an updated version that will be active in December. 

She said the district's interpretation of the Texas law requires teachers have balanced perspectives in books available in class to students during free time, as well as during classroom instruction. 

“Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements," Fitzgerald said. "Our purpose is to support our teachers in ensuring they have all of the professional development, resources and materials needed. Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable.”

She added teachers who aren't sure about a specific book “should visit with their campus principal, campus team and curriculum coordinators about appropriate next steps.”

There's nothing in the Texas law explicitly talking about classroom libraries, said Clay Robison, spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association. He called Carroll's book guidelines an "overreaction" and "misinterpretation" of the law. Three other education policy experts in Texas agreed with him. 

“We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history,” Robison said. “That’s absurd. It’s worse than absurd. And this law does not require it.”

NBC News heard from six Carroll teachers who became concerned about being punished for publicly talking about their views and talked on condition of staying anonymous. Those teachers said there have been mixed messages about what books are appropriate and what appropriate actions are. 

“Teachers are literally afraid that we’re going to be punished for having books in our classes,” said an elementary school teacher. “There are no children’s books that show the ‘opposing perspective’ of the Holocaust or the ‘opposing perspective’ of slavery. Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?”

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