It’s no secret that many school districts across the country have left the concept of learning far behind in their national struggle to exert authority over kids and parents alike. President Biden’s claim at the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year made it plain what many parents already knew: all kids are up for grabs. In his words, “They’re all our children. They are not somebody else’s children. They’re like yours when they’re in the classroom.”
Here are a few shocking moments from school boards and PTA meetings across the country.
1. Thought Police Spring into Action in Howard County, MD
In a shocking turn of events in 2013, a father of two in the Howard County school system in Maryland was escorted out of a Maryland State Department of Education question-and-answer forum and ultimately arrested for questioning “common core” teaching. Adam Small’s questioning centered on the hotly debated adoption of common core principles and his belief that this technique doesn’t adequately prepare students for continuing their studies in four-year colleges.
Questions for the DOE leaders were submitted in writing before the meeting, but Mr. Smalls stood to read his question from a notebook before being confronted and removed from the meeting.
Being escorted from the meeting wasn’t enough, however, and Mr. Smalls was arrested for allegedly pushing the security guard. The video doesn’t appear to show any physical resistance from the parent, but a stunned audience watched and recorded the interaction as a guard grabbed and pushed the concerned parent from the room. The charges against the father of two, second-degree assault of a police officer, could have cost the man ten years in prison and a $2,500 fine, while the second charge of disturbing a school operation carries a sentence of 6 months in prison and another $2,500 fine.
Throughout the incident, Mr. Smalls remained calm and, after seeing the recorded footage below, the prosecutor dropped all charges.
2. Death to Those Who Oppose
In July of 2021, the Fairfax County Virginia PTA vice president of training was relieved of her position after she commented “let them die,” allegedly regarding parents who opposed the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. Michelle Leete, also the Fairfax NAACP Vice President, was asked to submit her resignation to the PTA after her comments to a small gathering of counter-protestors were recorded. Although Ms. Leete was not speaking in her capacity as a leader during this incident, her comments were taken very seriously by the Virginia PTA Executive Committee.
Ms. Lee’s statement was as follows:
“Let’s deny this off-key band of people that are anti-education, anti-teacher, anti-equity, anti-history, anti-racial reckoning, anti-opportunities, anti-help people, anti-diversity, anti-platform, anti-science, anti-change agent, anti-social justice, anti-health care, anti-worker, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-children, anti-health care, anti-environment, anti-admissions policy change, anti-inclusion, anti-live-and-let live people. Let them die.”
Following the applause, she concluded, “Don’t let these uncomfortable people deter us from our bold march forward. Thank you.”
The Fairfax NAACP stood by Ms. Leete’s comments, which she later explained were misinterpreted because she was interrupted by applause after her “let them die” statement.
3. Do as I Say, Not as I Do
In February of 2022, another father was forcibly removed from a school board meeting as he sat maskless in the audience. Dave Calus was attending the Webster School Board meeting in New York maskless when he was approached by a security guard and told to put on a mask. When Mr. Calus refused, he was then dragged by his chair and his shirt towards the back of the room but sat back down. The guard then tipped the father of two out of his chair and forced him out of the room.
He had planned on discussing the ongoing mask mandate for students in the school district during the school board meeting. Mr. Calum pointed out that the school board had taken pictures of themselves in a meeting just days prior and posted them to Twitter.
4. Isn’t This Against the Law?
In another shocking turn of events, in December of 2021, a member of the Fort Worth Independent School District school board in Texas released the names, phone numbers, addresses, and places of employment of parents opposing school mask mandates. Norma Garcia-Lopez released the information after she called one of the parents from a blocked number and left an obscenity-riddled voice mail.
Ms.Garcia-Lopez, the co-chair of the Racial Equity Committee, doxxed the parents on social media and advised her followers to “do your thing.” The parents received threatening phone calls following the release of their personal information, and some had their businesses negatively impacted.
The school board member’s actions had unintended consequences as she found herself facing threatening messages and comments, which she insists are unfair.
A month prior, another parent in the same school district informed attendees in a school board meeting that he had a militia of over one thousand members “locked and loaded” in preparation to move against opponents of critical race theory.
5. Reading Material is OK for Kids but Offensive for School Board
An Orange County Florida school board meeting turned sour in October of 2021 when Jacob Engels began to read aloud from a book he found in a school library titled Gender Queer: A Memoir. Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs demanded that he stop almost as soon as he began reading a passage from the explicit book, and had him removed by police when he continued to read aloud. The material was judged to be too explicit for the forum.
Jacob Engels, himself a member of the LBGTQ community, was appalled that the book was available for young students in a high school library.
Engels’ message was received by Ms.Jacobs, who responded: “I understand the contradiction here. This is the first time I’ve heard of this and the board has heard of this. We will look into it, and I do hope the book is removed. OK? And if not, we’ll be back here having this conversation again.”
According to Shari Bobinksi, OCPS Director of Media Relations, following this meeting the book was found and removed from three high schools in the district.
News Travels Fast
Not only are these events being watched here at home, but they are also being closely followed on the world stage. As school districts and parents become increasingly more divided with hot-button topics such as vaccines and mask mandates, common core curriculum, and critical race theory, the news is traveling across the pond to the UK with outlets such as the BBC, the news tabloid The Daily Mail, and the Daily Telegraph, among others, following the debates closely.
Parents will continue to battle unfair and unprecedented educational decisions not only now, but well into the future.