Teachers’ union sues Rhode Island mom over requests for CRT curriculum info

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State and local branches of the National Education Association (NEA) filed a lawsuit this week against a Rhode Island mom who initiated hundreds of public records requests seeking information about whether her daughter’s school curriculum included principles of critical race theory.

The National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) and NEA South Kingstown (NEASK) filed an initial complaint Monday against local school officials, as well as parent Nicole Solas and a defendant identified only as John Doe Hartman.

Solas, of Wakefield, told WJAR she submitted more than 200 requests for information after the principal of her child’s elementary school told her they did not refer to students as “boys” and “girls,” preferring to use gender-inclusive pronouns.

That led Solas to initially request a copy of the curriculum. She later broadened her requests to include emails involving the then-school superintendent, teachers and union officials. One of the requests included a question of “what qualifications” a music teacher had “to talk about race and equality with choir students”.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Bristol County Superior Court requests that a judge block the release of “non-public records” and implement “a balancing test that properly assesses the public interest in the records at issue measured against the teacher’s individual privacy rights.”

“Given the circumstances of the requests,” the lawsuit states, “it is likely that any teachers who are identifiable and have engaged in discussions about things like critical race theory will then be the subject of teacher harassment by national conservative groups opposed to critical race theory.”

Solas fired back Thursday, telling Fox News: “You cannot be employed by the state and also demand immunity from public scrutiny. That’s not how open government works in America. Academic transparency is not a collective bargaining negotiation. It’s a parental right.”

Also Thursday, Solas tweeted that the unions had filed for a temporary restraining order to prevent the school committee from responding to her records requests while the lawsuit is being adjudicated. A day earlier, she confirmed that she had been served with the initial lawsuit.

“Throwing down the gauntlet, are we? Game on,” she tweeted.

In June, the South Kingstown School Committee considered filing their own lawsuit against Solas over her requests, but ultimately decided not to pursue it. Now, they are named as co-defendants with Solas in the teachers’ union suit.

Controversy over the teaching of critical race theory, which states that America’s founding, laws and institutions are based on white supremacy, has rocked the country’s school districts throughout the summer — often pitting school boards and teachers’ unions against parents and elected officials.

Last month, the NEA — which includes first lady Jill Biden as one of its members — passed a resolution at its annual convention vowing to publicize “an already-created, in-depth study that critiques white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy … capitalism … and other forms of power and oppression.”

A separate resolution said the union would “research the organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work and/or use the research already done and put together a list of resources and recommendations for state affiliates, locals, and individual educators to utilize when they are attacked.”

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