Update: This story has been updated to include Lipscomb’s denial that Dean Brittany Paschall has been fired. A spelling error in her name has also been corrected.
Families and alumni demonstrated outside of Lipscomb Academy on Thursday evening to protest the treatment of the school’s new dean of intercultural development, Brittany Paschall, in her few months on the job.
Demonstrators say Paschall was relieved of her duties after many parents, including country singer John Rich, questioned the hiring. Her supporters say she was punished for supporting a curriculum focused on social justice.
“She did nothing wrong. She was herself. She was a vessel for truth,” says Denzel Caldwell, a protester. “Those who do not want the truth to be told responded in malice.”
A spokeswoman says Paschall remains in her position. The school denies that she has been fired or relieved of her duties.
According to the Nashville Scene, Paschall’s appointment has roiled Lipscomb Academy, a private school affiliated with the Church of Christ, throughout the fall. She was held responsible for assignments that asked students at the majority-white school to consider racism in American society, including the concept of white privilege.
Paschall’s supporters say she has been sidelined because of racism, and that she was targeted for teaching a curriculum that was already being taught at the academy before she arrived.
Lipscomb says in a statement it’s committed to building a diverse community.
“We remain unequivocally and irrevocably committed to embracing ethnic, cultural and economic diversity, showing the love of Christ to all and to building a diverse community where every student, faculty and staff member is valued, respected and loved,” the school said.
Rich wasn’t the only parent to complain, and in fact, his publicist shared audio with the Scene of a parental meeting in which the singer defends Paschall. But the protest’s organizer, Allie Wallace, says Rich has exerted outsized influence at the school.
“Hiring Brittany as the first dean of intercultural development was a great step towards diversity and inclusion efforts,” says Wallace. “But then a parent who writes big paychecks makes a complaint, and six months later, only six months in her job, she no longer has it.”