Congressional hopeful Karoline Leavitt questioned why SAU 16 would have a board member of the Black Lives Matter organization as its chief diversity officer, describing the activist group as a “Marxist terrorist organization.”

Her comments came in response to reporting by New Hampshire Journal on the Exeter school system’s Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Andres Mejia acknowledging he is in the leadership of Black Lives Matter’s seacoast chapter.

“I’m very concerned that we have someone who is part of a Marxist terrorist organization sitting in a position of power in our school system,” Leavitt told NHJournal.

Mejia, a UNH graduate and Carsey School for Public Policy Fellow, told parents during a public hearing last week that he would not step down from the organization and that he did not see it as conflicting with his duties at the school.

“I am Black and I can never separate myself from Black Lives Matter,” Mejia said. “My life matters.”

At issue is the debate over using Critical Race Theory and similar ideologies in New Hampshire schools. A new NHJournal poll released Monday found 69 percent of Granite State Republicans “strongly oppose” using CRT in classrooms. Just 13 percent support it.

During last week’s public meeting, SAU Superintendent David Ryan acknowledged there was a problem with a recent diversity training session for Kingston teachers. The training, conducted by the company 2Revolutions, sparked complaints of anti-White bias. 2Revolutions employs Critical Race Theory scholars.

Leavitt, a 24-year-old former Trump Administration assistant press secretary, said New Hampshire parents are “infuriated” by CRT being taught in schools and she wants to make sure it stops.

“Critical Race Theory is a racist ideology that divides us based on our skin color,” Leavitt said. “It reverses what heroes like Martin Luther King fought for — that we judge each other on our behavior, not the color of our skin. It is evil to teach young children to view each other differently based on what we look like.”

Leavitt says parents want schools to get back to basics, and that is not teaching Critical Race Theory.

“I saw the passion of parents, angry that our schools were teaching racial division instead of reading, writing, and math,” Leavitt said.

Supporters of the Black Lives Matter organization reject accusations that it is a terrorist organization. “Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist organization nor a terrorist movement, and no responsible source would describe it as such,” David Sterman, an international security senior policy analyst at the New America think tank, told PolitiFact.

However, even its defenders acknowledge the group was founded by self-declared “trained Marxist” Patrisse Cullors and two self-declared “anti-capitalists.”

The BLM seacoast chapter Mejia helps lead released a list of demands for elected officials during last year’s elections. They included an end to all school resource officers and government monitoring of police officers’ personal Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts for “threatening or potentially violent posts.”

The group is opposed to having police officers in schools. Its website defines its mission: “Our purpose is to dismantle anti-Blackness, fight against racial injustices and end police brutality.”

Mejia and several other teachers and school officials headed an information session for the community on Thursday to explain the diversity training and programs the school district uses. Meja explained the goal of the DEI-J program is to serve all students best by understanding where they come from and helping them feel secure and supported in school no matter their differences.

“My role is working for all students,” Meija said.