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RI Teachers Union Seeks Emergency Injunction Preventing Release of CRT Records To Mom Nicole Solas (Update)

RI Teachers Union Seeks Emergency Injunction Preventing Release of CRT Records To Mom Nicole Solas (Update)

What are the unions trying to hide?

(See added analysis below.)

The Rhode Island branches of the National Education Association filed suit against the South Kingstown School District, School Committee, and local mom Nicole Solas, arguing that public records requests filed by Solas should not be complied with. You can read the background and details in our post yesterday, Teachers Union Sues Mom Nicole Solas To Prevent School District From Releasing Critical Race Teaching Records.

Today NEA-RI filed for emergency injunctive relief, seeking a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. You can read the full filing below and at the bottom of this post:

National Education Association of RI v. Nicole Solas – Motion For TRO and Preliminary Injunction

National Education Association of RI v. Nicole Solas -Memo of Law In Support of Motion For TRO and Preliminary Injunction

National Education Association of RI v. Nicole Solas -Exhibits to Memo of Law In Support of Motion For TRO and Preliminary Injunction

The Court electronic docket does not yet reflect a hearing date.

MORE TO FOLLOW

Update: Added 6:20 p.m.

I was pulled away today on other things, finally able to give my thoughts on this TRO filing.

First, where are the affidavits? The entire premise of the purported emergency is that if the court doesn’t act now, private records not subject to disclosure will be produced. On what basis is that assertion made? Who told the unions that would happen? Are the unions in touch with either the District, School Commitee, or their attorneys? If so, one would expect an affidavit either attesting to a conversation or attaching emails. The Complaint is Verified, but the evidence is lacking in the complaint. That is critically important because everything we know about how South Kingstown responds to public records requests is that they are very, very (I repeat, very) aggressive in asserting exemptions and redacting documents. (See prior post for an example.) There is nothing in the filing that suggests South Kingstown would do otherwise here, and certainly nothing of an evidentiary nature to back up such speculation. Without this evidence, the motion should fail at the outset.

Second, the motion seeks to upend the entire public records statutory scheme. The legislature clearly considered that some non-public records might be requested, that is why the legislature included numerous exemptions (see prior post for statutory language) from disclosure that entities, such as school districts, subject to the public records law could assert. So for the unions to demand the court intervene because someone allegedly requested non-public records disregards the statutory scheme providing for exemptions.

Third, I can’t say it’s unprecedented, but it’s very unusual for an entity (NEA-RI) that is not involved in the public records process to seek to intervene in that process. Normally, the way these disputes reach court is that the entity refuses to turn over records claiming an exemption, and the requester seeks a court ruling for disclosure. That is what happened in the main case relied upon by the unions, Lyssikatos. That’s not the case here. Solas has not filed a complaint seeking records withheld by the District. This is just so bizarre that without evidentiary support the unions would run into court seeking an emergency injunction over a public records process to which they are not a party. If this process is permitted, it opens the court to issuing advisory opinions on records that no party to the public records process actually seeks to disclose, based on the fears by non-parties to that process.

Fourth, I suggested in the prior post that this “smelled” collusive. Whether there was “collusion” in the sense of active cooperation or not, I can imagine a scenario in which there is no real dispute here. South Kingstown is sick of Solas’ public records requests and the embarrassment she has brought the district, and the School Committee even considered suing her then backed away after public outcry. The unions also are sick of Solas, have held at least one meeting warning about her (see prior post), and want her to go away as to public records. So both the plaintiff (the unions) and the primary defendants (the district and School Committee) are aligned in their interest in having Solas’ public records requests shut down in substantial part. This easily could have resulted in a stipulation so-ordered by the court denying production of certain records and subjecting other records to a burdensome and endless review process, essentially shutting Solas down. But there’s a problem — Solas had to be named because she is the real party in interest as the requester, as the unions admitted in the complaint:

9. Defendants Solas and Hartman [her husband] are named and included only insofar as Plaintiffs are required to do so pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 9-30-11 which provides that “[w]hen declaratory relief is sought, all persons shall be made parties who have or claim any interest which would be affected by the declaration, and no declaration shall prejudice the rights 0f persons not parties t0 the proceeding.”

Fifth, which leads me to wonder what really is going on here. I strongly suspect that the unions are not really afraid that confidential non-public personnel records would be produced by South Kingstown. There’s nothing to suggest that is how South Kingstown operates. Rather, there is a “tell” in the papers, a focus on someone who is not even a union member anymore, retired teacher Robin Wildman. From the Complaint:

27. For example, Request No. 158 submitted by Defendant Hartman calls for “all complaints against Robin Wildman. App. B, p. 2.

28. Wildman is a retired teacher and former member 0f NEA.

***

35. For example, Request N0. 164 calls for all e-mails between Linda Savastano (the former Superintendent) and Robin Wildman for a period 0f two years. App. B, p. 2.

From the Memo of Law:

Documents which may contain such [disciplinary] information may be produced in response t0 Request No. 158 submitted which calls for “all complaints against Robin Wildman;”3

3 While Wildman is now retired, she was a teacher and member 0f NEA during the time period for which the e-mails are requested.

***

Records that implicate teacher e-mails. Documents which may contain such information may be produced in response to Request No. 164 which calls for all emails between Linda Savastano (the former Superintendent) and Robin Wildman for a period 0f two years, ….

Who is Robin Wildman that they don’t want her emails with the superintendent revealed? She’s a CRT activist who is at the center of a complaint Solas filed with the RI Attorney General’s office, as The Washington Times reported on July 29, 2021:

[Solas] filed her complaint with the Rhode Island attorney general after she was told she could not attend weekly meetings of the BIPOC Advisory Board, a group that began meeting last September to propose new policies for hiring, athletics, discipline and a host of other concerns for the K-12 public schools there.

The board is led by Robin Wildman, founder of Nonviolent Schools Rhode Island, who has been paid $7,474 for her services through June 30, according to school vendor records. It is expected to finish its work by August, and thus far the South Kingstown School Committee has given preliminary approval to the Board’s proposed changes to its discrimination policy.

In a May interview with The Collective, a left-wing bookstore and “organizing space” in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, Ms. Wildman said she approached the school district with the idea for a “BIPOC group that would look at policies and practices and make recommendations to create a more inclusive, antiracist district.” BIPOC is an acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous and people of color.

A retired 5th-grade teacher, Ms. Wildman said she believes teaching and activism go hand-in-hand.

“I believe in working for justice, not equal rights,” she said, saying that systemic racism means “the vast majority of those that control all of the systems in our country are White.

“Justice means breaking down the oppressive systems that prevent BIPOC from accessing opportunities in your community that White people have,” Ms. Wildman said.

Ms. Solas said she learned of the board’s existence through a local news report, and that Ms. Wildman was being paid to “facilitate” the board’s meetings.

“When I learned that this board existed and was getting paid to revise school policies I asked to come and see the meetings and was told they are not open,” Ms. Solas said. “For a year now, they have been squeezing all their policies through the lens of anti-racism and essentially injecting racism into everything.” …

So I take with a bucket of salt union claims they are concerned about South Kingstown voluntarily revealing private non-public records about union members. More likely, they are afraid their role in pushing CRT in South Kingstown, and targeting of Solas and other dissident parents, will be revealed.

Sixth, the school districts and unions are united in wanting to scale back the public records laws. The unions and the Rhode Island School Superintendents Association (RISSA) both sought to amend the public records laws based on Solas’ requests, as we covered in an earlier post:

Legal Insurrection Foundation has learned that the Rhode Island School Superintendents Association (RISSA) is spearheading an effort to alter the RI Access to Public Records Act (APRA), using highly charged partisan political messaging among its members. RISSA has enlisted the help of friendly legislators and unions in a behind-the-scenes effort that denigrates “many of our citizens [who] live in a separate news reality with Fox, Newsmax and their ilk.”

That effort stalled after Legal Insurrection published the details and the Rhode Island ACLU raised concerns, but it’s clearly still on their minds. (We have learned more about RISSA’s activities that we will reveal in a later post.)

Seventh, you’re gonna need to hire more judges. In all, I don’t know if a court will feel the need to dig deep into the motivations and intrigue. The motion should be denied because the procedure the unions propose upends and inverts the public records statutory scheme and normal process. If the court adopts the union approach, the court is going to have to hire more judges, because every person who, without actual evidence, believes their personal records may be disclosed by a goverment entity would be able to run into court seeking a TRO.

———————–

National Education Association of RI v. Nicole Solas – Motion for TRO and Preliminary Injunction by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

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National Education Association of RI v. Nicole Solas -Memo of Law in Support of Motion for Temporary Restra… by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

———————–

National Education Association of RI v. Nicole Solas -Exhibits to Memo of Law in Support of Motion for TRO… by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

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Comments

Lucifer Morningstar | August 5, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Would someone please explain to me how the “teacher’s union” has standing to file these lawsuits on behalf of the school district? I understand they represent the teachers but how do they come to represent the school district itself.

If I were the judge I’d throw it all out for lack of standing and require the school district to file any lawsuits they feel is necessary in this case.

    The district (as South Kingston School Committee) is a defendant along with Solis.

      DaveGinOly in reply to Rabel. | August 5, 2021 at 3:34 pm

      I have the same question, and unfortunately your response leaves the question unanswered. This is a contest between a citizen and a government entity (school district). The government has obligations to its citizens (such as the production of documents/transparency). How would the union be harmed by the state being forced to abide by its obligations? The teacher’s union doesn’t create the curriculum, it’s not responsible for the curriculum, and it teaches the curriculum it’s directed to teach. I’m not seeing how they have standing (are exposed to harm) to interject themselves into a contest between the government and a citizen demanding government fulfillment of its obligations.

        Rabel in reply to DaveGinOly. | August 5, 2021 at 3:58 pm

        Their argument is that some of the information requested is personnel related and is exempt from the from the state’s public records request law. They want that information held from release until it is reviewed privately by a judge.

        The union is the collective bargaining agent for the teachers and has a legitimate legal interest in defending its members rights in court – whether you or I like it or not.

          Crawford in reply to Rabel. | August 5, 2021 at 6:41 pm

          They have no standing — they’re not a party to the request, the legislature did not grant them a role, and whatever imaginary “collective bargaining” authority they’ve been granted doesn’t give them the right to abuse the courts to punish a critic.

    1) Requirements for standing in State courts (where this is) are different from requirements for standing in Federal courts, where standing is considered a constitutional requirement due to the words of Article III of the Constitution.
    2) Generally standing in state courts is governed by the statutes of the state, either express or implied.
    3) Here, the NEA is not getting involved in the suit between Robin and the school board. They have filed a separate lawsuit, where they are suing the school board, demanding that the school board not release any private and personal information information relating to teachers. They are allowed to file such lawsuits because they are the bargaining unit for all teachers in the state.

      CommoChief in reply to fredx3. | August 5, 2021 at 5:51 pm

      Fred, your general description is granted. What communication about a public policy matter, advocacy re CRT/equity, with a public official is private?

      Is the language used in these strategy sessions or communications embarrassing or harmful to the image of the people making the communication? Was the language used contemptuous towards Citizens?

      Perhaps disclosure would reveal the actual relationship/power dynamics between unions and district leaders that is unflattering? That’s not private. When one communicates with a public official re policy matters that’s subject to public records disclosure.

      Crawford in reply to fredx3. | August 5, 2021 at 6:43 pm

      Except they’re also suing Solas.

      randian in reply to fredx3. | August 5, 2021 at 7:43 pm

      So the NEA is colluding with the school board to violate state records laws? By colluding, I mean filing a lawsuit which is based on a prearranged settlement crafted together in advance behind closed doors. Then the board settles the lawsuit by agreeing with the NEA’s action, which they both want, that action being a prohibition on the board disclosing anything the plaintiff doesn’t want disclosed.

JusticeDelivered | August 5, 2021 at 1:27 pm

What percentage of Americans will take their children out of public schools to stop their children from being subjected to bald faced racism?

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to JusticeDelivered. | August 5, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    What is the alternative for working parents?

      Stop voting for democrats
      Private school
      Move to a state with school choice
      Rethink financial priorities
      Financial and educational resources from churches

      Not all parents have easy options, but all parents should be considering the options they have.

      The “free” education provided by government schools has long term costs.

      I live in a suburb of a large city. For me the answer is parochial school. My son has scholarships, plus they supplement based on our income with a grant. We forgo some things. But I know what they teach and they listen to parents. It is college prep and teaches in the classical educational tradition. If I were in a rural area I am not sure what we would do.

        fredx3 in reply to kyrrat. | August 5, 2021 at 4:00 pm

        I hope you are right about the Catholic school listening to parents. For all too many modern Catholic schools, they hate both the parents and the Catholic church.

      The alternative for working parents is to attend the School Board Meetings and make their voices and votes heard.

      Immediately gather and create a coalition of people who will loudly push for public education dollars to follow the student to the school of choice.

      Work to emphasize the distinction between public funding of K – 12 education and funding solely government schools.

    Sadly, the answer is not enough.

50 shades of Every Child Left Behind policy in Atlanta and other Democrat-oriented jurisdictions.

Interpretation: The corrupt government school branch of the CCP is scared shitless of transparency as that sunlight might lead to truth. The days of pretending are over. Time to cement the revolution.

Government schools must be defunded 100% as the taxpayers are subsidizing their own execution.

Seems to me that every bit of school district policy, 100% of which is publicly funded, should already be public record. There should be no need to sue to get information that we already paid for that has no reason to stay secret.

    DaveGinOly in reply to Ironclaw. | August 5, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    Yes. Every shred of it should be posted online for complete access by the public. There’s no reason why it’s not except there are things they would rather the public not see. We’re not talking about LE practices and techniques or defense secrets, this is a school district!

Let’s face it. Teachers have become mental abusers of children, and they want to indoctrinate children to rebel against their parents. Such abusers need to be tracked by camera every second of the day and every thing they teach your children needs to be monitored 100 percent. If they are teaching regular things like math, science etc, then the recordings will be left in the vault and ignored. But if they are teaching radicalism (they are) communism (they are) hatred for the United States (they are) then we need to be able to track everything they do. Because too many teachers really do believe their job is to make kids into communists.

1) Requirements for standing in State courts (where this is) are different from requirements for standing in Federal courts, where standing is considered a constitutional requirement due to the words of Article III of the Constitution.
2) Generally standing in state courts is governed by the statutes of the state, either express or implied.
3) Here, the NEA is not getting involved in the suit between Robin and the school board. They have filed a separate lawsuit, where they are suing the school board, demanding that the school board not release any private and personal information information relating to teachers. They are allowed to file such lawsuits because they are the bargaining unit for all teachers in the state.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to fredx3. | August 5, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    What they are really trying to do, is shield pro CRT teachers. That is consistent with their attempts to impose CRT via stealth tactics.

    We deserve to know the name of everyone involved in this.

    Arminius in reply to fredx3. | August 5, 2021 at 11:40 pm

    In other words, the teacher’s union is attempting to protect itself by protecting guilty individuals. Perhaps not legally guilty, but guilty of of pushing CRT.

    What bold tellers-of-truth to power! On the one hand we have teachers courageously stating online that they will defy any law that says they can’t teach CRT.

    On the other hand, we have unions going to court to prevent those bold, courageous individuals from being publicly identified.

    How brave!

How will they establish that they are likely to succeed on the merits? Public records, such as teaching plans, can easily be redacted if they contain personnel info, but it’s hard to believe that any of the documents requested would contain anything that is exempt under FOIA laws

    Arminius in reply to rochf. | August 5, 2021 at 11:41 pm

    Why are the names of those individuals hired to teach other people’s children, and what exactly those individuals are teaching other people’s children, state secrets?

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