Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) recently appointed Eric Hall to be the new head of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and his doctoral-level dissertation from 2014 has some scratching their heads.

According to POLITICO, Hall was a previous endorser of Critical Race Theory (CRT) when he wrote his final work while at the University of South Florida. Hall described CRT as a good “framework” for the public education system to engage is racial disparity discussions.

“Critical Race Theory (CRT) provides a grounded set of beliefs that seek to uncover and expose racism and its related impact on those who are often without power, in the case of this study, minority students,” Hall wrote.

DeSantis has become a vocal opponent, nationally, to CRT and was supportive of the Florida State Board of Education to ban CRT from Florida’s public school system. He has previously referred to CRT as “state-sanctioned racism.”

Most recently, DeSantis also unveiled his plan for “anti-woke” legislation which seeks to codify the ban of CRT from Florida’s schools as well as offer protections to Florida’s employees for having to undergo CRT training in the workplace.

In an interview with Florida Politics, Hall said he has had an evolution on the issue and now stands opposed to it as an ideology.

“The more that I’ve learned over this past decade about CRT and the divisive nature that it brings… (the) Governor’s absolutely correct, it has absolutely no place in our K-12 system,” Hall said.

In his dissertation, he lamented his own privilege as a white male and said his thinking has also shifted on that issue, emphasizing surrounding conditions being a bigger factor than race specifically on privilege.

“I think there’s multiple factors that sometimes create these challenges and these hurdles,” Hall explained. “Our job then is how do we leverage the resources that we have to mitigate and knock down those barriers.”

DeSantis’ administration said it was aware of Hall’s dissertation, but it has not specified if DeSantis himself was aware. Taryn Fenske, communications director for DeSantis, defended Hall because his only two options for dissertation topics were CRT and female gender studies.

“It’s unfortunate that in some instances when you go through a doctoral program you have a committee that’s going to lean a certain direction and why students have to cater their work to that,” Fenske said.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Eric Hall” by Eric Hall.