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T/E Parent Wins Release of CRT Documents

Documents released by court order show Tredyffrin/Easttown teachers are learning about Critical Race Theory and how to “transform” the district. However, a lawyer for the school district says the controversial race-based theory is not reaching students.

Parent Ben Auslander contended Tredyffrin/Easttown School District officials violated his First Amendment rights when he tried to take verbal notes on Critical Race Theory (CRT) materials from a vendor.

Auslander, working with America First Legal and Wayne attorney Walter Zimolong, sued the district, winning the release of 166 pages of documents that vendor Pacific Educational Group (PEG), a California-based education consultant supplied to T/E.

PEG claims “systemic racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished capacity of all children.” The district had hired the company to run teacher training and shape the curriculum, according to the America First Legal (AFL) press statement.

Auslander wanted to see the PEG materials. District officials told him he could look at the papers, but he could not take notes or pictures and had to look at the materials at the district office.

When Auslander tried to make a voice recording on his cell phone about what he saw, he was told to leave and officials threatened to call the police, the lawsuit said.

The materials show, “PEG’s ‘training’ of the district staff included exercises on’ walking through the barriers to teaching Critical Race Theory at your school,’ and how ‘Critical Race Theory is a vital step in your School Transformation Action Plan,'” according to AFL.

Kenneth Roos, the district solicitor, denied CRT is taught in the school district but acknowledged it is part of “district staff discussions.”

“To be clear, CRT is not taught in TESD schools,” said Roos. “The district has developed its own initiative related to equity, inclusion, and belonging. The district works with multiple vendors to craft the steps to support our own initiative. In some EIB initiative leadership training (including the ones PEG did), district staff discussed with each other (not students) what CRT is and how it fits into the national context. CRT is not an underpinning of what the district teaching in the classroom, and it is not in the TESD curriculum.”

However, former school board Director Kyle Boyer acknowledged at a public meeting in 2021 the district does use elements of CRT in its curriculum.

Zimolong said the newly-released documents counter claims made by Roos. “His claims could only be true if you ignore what the CRT documents bought and paid for by the school district say. Indeed, page eight of the documents sets forth a ‘School Transformation Plan’ using the teaching of CRT to achieve that transformation. The school district’s comments recall Orwell in ‘1984’ who wrote, ‘[t]he party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.'”

The judge’s decision is “a great outcome if you’re in favor of transparency and knowing what is being taught to your kids in school and you don’t like when any government agency tries to sandbag and cover up from a citizen what their tax dollars are being spent on,” said Zimolong.

The litigation is continuing. While obtaining the documents was part of the process, claims regarding how his client was treated by school officials remain to be litigated. Zimolong said officials had violated Auslander’s First Amendment rights by not permitting him to record his thoughts.

Auslander could not be reached for comment.

The next phase of the court case will require depositions from school officials, Zimolong said. After that, there may be a hearing in September or Judge Harvey Bartle III might rule based on the results of the depositions.

For his part, Roos said the district continues to believe the case should be dismissed.

Andrew McClellan, a parent whose son is a student at Conestoga High School, is very unhappy with both the racial and transgender curriculum that he says is being taught in district schools.

“To be honest with you, we’ve known this has been going on for a long time,” said McClellan. “All their transgender promotion and the grooming that they’re doing. They’re sexualizing these kids. It’s all done in secrecy, then they lie to the parents about it…The majority of their policies and curriculum, if you can even call it curriculum, the ideologies, the grooming, it’s all there and they lie to us about it. It’s horrific. How did we get here?”

“It’s been an agenda,” he said. “It’s been a takeover.”

Meanwhile, the AFL lawyers believe these PEG materials illustrate that CRT is being taught in many districts across the country.

“This should forever end all debate. Our innocent children are being viciously indoctrinated with CRT by Marxist radicals. This lawless, extremist, poisonous bigotry must be defeated,” said Stephen Miller AFL president.

AFL Vice-President and General Counsel, Gene Hamilton, said, “These documents establish–once and for all–that CRT is present in public schools across the country. And not only is it present, but it is being funded by taxpayers across this country with hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent in each individual school district.

“The American people do not want their money being spent on these toxic training materials under any circumstance, but especially not while their children attend classes that are overcrowded, their teachers are underpaid, and in school buildings that are in need of repair. Every dollar spent on this nonsense is a dollar wasted,” Hamilton said.

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Parent Claims T/E Violated His First Amendment Rights, Files Lawsuit

A parent filed a federal lawsuit against the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Tuesday claiming the district violated his First Amendment rights.

Ben Auslander says the school district and its business manager, Arthur McDonnell, violated his constitutional rights by ushering him out from a room where he was perusing documents that outline the Critical Race Theory (CRT) curriculum the district is using.

Using a Right-to-Know request, Auslander asked for all materials pertaining to Pacific Education Group (PEG), the district’s CRT consultant, the suit said. The district had paid PEG $400,000.

CRT is a controversial and divisive theory being used in the curriculum of many school districts and has brought parents out to school board meetings to object. Parents found out about it when their children had in-home schooling due to the pandemic.

Stemming from Marxist philosophy, CRT teaches children they are oppressors if they are White and victims if they are Black. While many districts have denied they teach CRT when confronted by parents, one former T/E board member, Kyle Boyer, openly admitted it at a board meeting last July.

The district denied Auslander’s request “to provide the records, lessons, and materials, but granted an in-camera (in person) review of the material created by PEG,” the suit said. Auslander began to take verbal notes in a smartphone voice recorder about the voluminous material. When he refused to stop,  McDonnell escorted him out.

“McDonnell threatened to hold (Auslander) liable under the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act for recording his own voice,” the suit said. “He also threatened to hold (him) liable under ‘copyright laws.’

“McDonnell also called the school district’s attorney and threatened to call PEG’s attorney,” the suit said. “After Mr. Auslander refused to stop recording his voice, defendant Mr. McDonnell terminated the meeting and ordered (him) to vacate the premises,” the suit said.

Auslander “seeks a preliminary injunction against defendants prohibiting them from interfering with his constitutional right to speak and record his voice while conducting a public records inspection. He also seeks nominal damages.”

 

T/E student assignment

 

“School systems across America desperately try to hide from parents the instructional materials developed by highly paid consultants to indoctrinate our children with critical race theory and other biased, partisan materials. In this case, the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District was so desperate to keep information from the public that it blatantly violated Mr. Auslander’s First Amendment right to document the instructional materials used to develop curriculum in his child’s school,” said Gene Hamilton, vice president and general counsel with America First Legal, which filed the lawsuit, along with Villanova lawyer Wally Zimolong.

“We look forward to continuing to stand up for parents like Mr. Auslander and hold school districts accountable that believe that parents surrender their constitutional rights when their children walk through the school doors.”

Kenneth Roos, the T/E solicitor, said Auslander’s First Amendment rights were not violated and that the district was complying with copyright law when officials refused to allow Auslander to make recorded notes about PEG materials.

“The fact is, it was copyrighted and Mr. Auslander was told what the restrictions would be and we followed the restrictions that were laid out by the Office of Open Records,” said Roos. “He was given certain ground rules to follow and he wouldn’t follow those ground rules.”

The district is required to protect the copyright held by PEG, he said.

“Whatever the district did was to protect the copyright. It had nothing to do with the content of materials,” said Roos. “It could have been anything.”

Delaware Valley Journal asked Roos whether Auslander’s First Amendment rights trump copyright law.

“The First Amendment is his right to speech,” said Roos. “It’s not his right to look at a document and make a verbatim oral transcript of it. He had a right to review documents under certain conditions. There’s nothing in the First Amendment that gave him the right to review those documents. The right to review the documents came under the Open Records Act.”

Parent Andrew McClellan, whose son is a student at Conestoga High School, said T/E officials are also paying PEG to train teachers and other staff in CRT. Numerous parents have spoken out at school board meetings against the CRT curriculum, yet the district continues to use it, he said.

“We literally had to get a lawyer to look at the curriculum,” said McClellan, regarding Auslander’s ordeal.

“All of these people from the White House to the school board work for us,” said McClellan. “They have forgotten that. I’m doing my best to remind them.”

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