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Teachers Union Sues Mom Nicole Solas To Prevent School District From Releasing Critical Race Teaching Records

Teachers Union Sues Mom Nicole Solas To Prevent School District From Releasing Critical Race Teaching Records

Previously, Solas was threatened with a lawsuit by the South Kingstown School Committee for seeking too many records regarding Critical Race and Gender teaching, now the Rhode Island chapter of the National Education Association has actually filed suit claiming many of the records are “private.”

Nicole Solas is the South Kingstown, Rhode Island, mother who gained national attention when she told her story at Legal Insurrection regarding her stymied efforts to obtain school records regarding teaching of Critical Race and Gender theory, I’m A Mom Seeking Records Of Critical Race and Gender Curriculum, Now The School Committee May Sue To Stop Me.

We have followed Solas’ story since the beginning:

Solas has had dozens of national media appearances, and has continued to make news in Rhode Island and nationally. I expect that news cycle will continue because Solas was just sued by the Rhode Island branches of the largest teachers union in the country, the National Education Association, trying to prevent South Kingstown from providing Solas with information she has requsted, including communcations involving the union or its members.

You can read the full Complaint with exhibits (pdf.), filed in Rhode Island Superior Court, at the bottom of this post. Legal Insurrection is the first to report on the lawsuit.

We will add additional analysis and commentary to this post. My initial take is that this smells collusive. South Kingstown doesn’t want to produce records and the union is helping them out. The lawsuit purports to prevent disclosure of “private” information, but the public records laws and Solas’ requests pursuant to those laws only require the district to produce public records. The district has been very aggressive in asserting exemptions and redacting documents, so the union’s concern and rush to court seems peculiar, at best.

It’s worth noting that the South Kingstown NEA previously targeted Solas, as we reported, by holding a special membership meeting singling her out as a danger.

MORE TO FOLLOW

ADDED:

This lawsuit makes little sense on its face. The unions purport to be protecting their members non-public documents and  information, but the public records law only applies to “public records” as defined under the statute (emphasis added):

(4) “Public record” or “public records” shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data processing records, computer stored data (including electronic mail messages, except specifically for any electronic mail messages of or to elected officials with or relating to those they represent and correspondence of or to elected officials in their official capacities), or other material regardless of physical form or characteristics made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency. For the purposes of this chapter, the following records shall not be deemed public:

(A)(I)(a) All records relating to a client/attorney relationship and to a doctor/patient relationship, including all medical information relating to an individual in any files.

(b) Personnel and other personal individually identifiable records otherwise deemed confidential by federal or state law or regulation, or the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq.; provided, however, with respect to employees, and employees of contractors and subcontractors working on public works projects that are required to be listed as certified payrolls, the name, gross salary, salary range, total cost of paid fringe benefits, gross amount received in overtime, and any other remuneration in addition to salary, job title, job description, dates of employment and positions held with the state, municipality, or public works contractor or subcontractor on public works projects, employment contract, work location, and/or project, business telephone number, the city or town of residence, and date of termination shall be public. For the purposes of this section “remuneration” shall include any payments received by an employee as a result of termination, or otherwise leaving employment, including, but not limited to, payments for accrued sick and/or vacation time, severance pay, or compensation paid pursuant to a contract buy-out provision.

***

(E) Any records that would not be available by law or rule of court to an opposing party in litigation.

***

(H) Reports and statements of strategy or negotiation involving labor negotiations or collective bargaining.

***

(S) Records, reports, opinions, information, and statements required to be kept confidential by federal law or regulation or state law or rule of court.

As described in the Complaint, Solas seeks “records” which may not be “public”. But if that is the case, they do not have to be disclosed:

22. The requests include, but are not limited to, requests for records that may relate to labor relations which do not constitute public records. For example, 0n May 16, 2021, Solas submitted Request N0. 48 Which calls for “digital copies pertaining to the AFL-CIO in the last four months.” App. B, p. 1

23. The “AFL-CIO” is an acronym for the American Federation 0f Labor and Congress Industrial Organizations. It is a federation of unions that includes the NEA.

24. Solas also submitted Request N0. 100 Which calls for “digital copies 0f public documents relating t0 Patrick Crowley in the months of March, April, and May 2021.” App. B, p. 1.

25. Patrick Crowley is a NEARI employee and Rhode Island AFL-CIO official.

The Complaint alleges a large document production on July 13 by the district, but does not allege that that production included records outside the scope of “public records” under the statute:

45. Based 0n the scope of the requests concerning Savastano’s e-mails, upon information and belief, a response would call for communications between teachers Who are NEA members and Savastano that are not public records or would otherwise not be subject t0 disclosure because disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

46. On or about July 13, 2021, the Defendant School Committee responded t0 one of the recent APRA requests by releasing a total of about 6,500 pages of documents.

I don’t know what those 6,500 pages contained, but if it’s anything like what South Kingstown produced to Legal Insurrection Foundation pursuant to our request for records regarding a School Committee statement about Solas, it probably almost entirely redacted based on the exemptions in the statute:

[South Kingstown Letter to Legal Insurrection Foundation asserting exemptions]

We received hundreds of pages that look like this (we will be following up on this):

[South Kingstown Redaction of Record to Legal Insurrection Foundation]

Is there any reason to think South Kingstown will not follow the statute by providing too much information? If so, there’s nothing in the Complaint to show that. The district is represented by legal counsel, who already has stipulated to service of the Complaint. That same legal counsel has been involved in the district’s responses to public records requests, and they are not shy about asserting exemptions.

The unions want the court to review document productions in camera based on a suspicion that South Kingstown will turn over non-public documents. Seriously? If that’s the case, the Superior Court is going to have to hire more judges.

Another curious item. It seems that the unions are concerned that their actions regarding CRT and Solas will be disclosed by the district (emphasis added):

65. It is anticipated that teacher records will be produced that will be of a personal nature and will contain the identities of the teachers engaged in the personal communication as well as other communications that relate to personnel issues, disciplinary issues, performance issues, medical issues and issues not related t0 the official business of the School Department.

66. It is further anticipated that teacher records will be produced that may or will contain discussions about union-related activities which are not public records subj ect t0 disclosure.

67. It is further anticipated that teacher e-mails will be produced that may or will contain discussions about critical race theory curriculum or other issues 0f “interest” to the requestors that will contain individual teachers’ names and personally identifiable information.

70. Given the circumstances 0f the requests, 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.

The Rhode Island School Superintendents Association, with help from unions, has sought to amend the public records law, a matter first reported on by Legal Insurrection. Anticipate another push by the unions in light of this lawsuit.

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National Education Association of RI v. Nicole Solas – Complaint and Exhibits by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

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Comments

It’s quite telling that they don’t want to release what very well should already be public record.

    Dathurtz in reply to Ironclaw. | August 4, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    Yep. How are lesson plans or overarching teaching philosophies private?

    We all have digital plans, now. I don’t know a single teacher that doesn’t have years of their plans on their computer. Or a district that doesn’t have some portal we submit them through that saves them forever.

      Ben Kent in reply to Dathurtz. | August 4, 2021 at 3:41 pm

      I read Solas’ questions in the exhibit to the brief. These are things EVERY parent should want to know. I am going to copy her questions verbatim and send them to my school superintendent and ask for the same answers. I HOPE EVERYONE ELSE DOES THE SAME. Everyone has a stake in this – not just parents. If you pay taxes – you have every right to know what the school is teaching the next generation.

      Next, their brief asked to keep some info private from the parents. Within reason, that’s acceptable. BUT communications between school officials should be made available. AND any communication related to school – even if a teacher or admin is communicating to the Union or other supposed “outside party” should be disclosed if it related to school policy or education of our kids.

        Paul in reply to Ben Kent. | August 4, 2021 at 4:52 pm

        This is a great idea, and could be implemented as a functional enhancement to the prof’s CRT web site. The site could provide functionality for users to lookup their school board, member contact information, automate email messaging requesting information, etc.

      irv in reply to Dathurtz. | August 4, 2021 at 6:36 pm

      Well sure. That’s fine for teachers. But you can’t let PARENTS see that stuff! Next thing you know, they’ll want to have some say in their kids’ education! No, no, no, no, no! This insanity must be stopped!

        Dathurtz in reply to irv. | August 4, 2021 at 7:01 pm

        Our parents can log into the program we use to log our lessons plans. Seems like a bit of common sense. They can see any assignments.

        I don’t understand how those commie hell holes operate.

    MARK in reply to Ironclaw. | August 5, 2021 at 9:35 am

    One more reason to repeal the blaine laws and send our children to a private school

    texasron in reply to Ironclaw. | August 5, 2021 at 9:42 am

    Liberals will not be happy until they create a full-blown race war. Then, they will instigate laws to control everyone!

WANT TO CAUSE CIVIL UNREST – F*CK WITH OUR KIDS !!

Parents are required by law to enroll their kids in school – giving them over to strangers with the trust that they will not be mistreated. There is nothing – NOTHING – that should be hidden from parents. Suing a parent to prevent them from knowing what their kids are being taught is OUTRANGEOUS AND WILL NOT BE TOLERATED – BY ANY PARENT as a matter of principle.

This is not a Dem issue or a Repub issue. It’s a human issue. Only the most looney political crazies cannot see this.

Best way for Progressives to DESTROY their credibility is to continue to push this BS and hide it from parents. Just the fact that they started this shit is crazy – then doubling down and tripling down is insane. The fact that most Dem politicians still support the madness tells us that many politicians care more about the woke mob and the teachers unions than they do about their constituent’s kids.

We as American’s are very tolerant people – too tolerant in many ways. But there is ZERO tolerance for F*cking with our kids. People of all ages, sexes, races and political views WILL go batshit crazy to protect their kids.

THERE WILL BE A RECKONING AT THE BALLOT BOX.

2smartforlibs | August 4, 2021 at 2:15 pm

This is why FIOA requests and meeting attendance are important.

I did think lesson plans were public.

You can tell she is over the target an they are afraid of her.

Unions might want to be wary of counter suits; they have a pocket book to hit as well as the district. Collusion to defame is a bad look. Collusion with the district among local and national unions to conduct untruthful PR, obscure the record and potentially engage in spoilation of evidence makes them a party. IMO.

    SeiteiSouther in reply to CommoChief. | August 4, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    They wanted a SLAPP lawsuit? This is how you get one.

    kneeman in reply to CommoChief. | August 5, 2021 at 1:39 am

    Bankrupt the unions with lawsuits. Less for them to give to their democrat politicians.

    It would be interesting to see email traffics between the union and school board about the lawsuit

    NightRider07 in reply to CommoChief. | August 8, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    Just remember the Dems just gave the teachers unions hundreds of millions of dollars they have plenty in the Proverbial purses to take on any challenges to there hold on power.

    Now with that said it’s a Public school system I would think that anything they do to include lesson plans and all communication should be subject to Public scrutiny and visibility.

In American the teachers no longer work for the parents paying the property taxes that pay for the schools and their salaries.

They work for the fascist Marxist state, And they are only interested in the interests of that state. Just like in the Soviet Union.

Or so the teachers would like to believe. We shall see.

    Interloper5000 in reply to JHogan. | August 5, 2021 at 11:18 am

    What exactly is a “Fascist Marxist”? They are polar opposite political and economic philosophies that fall under the umbrella of Socialism.

      Clearly a product of government schools.

      AnAdultInDiapers in reply to Interloper5000. | August 5, 2021 at 2:36 pm

      The problem is that most of us can’t tell the difference between fascism and marxism. To the normal victim they both look the same.

      Both Fascism and Marxism are both Socialist ideologies, as is Nazism. They all touted a Socialistic society, with the major differences being that Marx posited a class warfare, fascism touted a nationalist identity and Nazism pushed forward a race war of the Germans versus lower races. They were all Socialist though. Please watch some of the TIK videos for his specifics and evidence (with solid references): https://m.youtube.com/user/TheImperatorKnight

JusticeDelivered | August 4, 2021 at 2:57 pm

I cannot understand how these dipshits do not understand that this is destroying public schools. There will not be a teachers union if they keep this up.

“The works of Franz Kafka typically features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers.”

School district: Pay your taxes to us, or men with guns will show up at your door to throw you in jail, and confiscate your property.

Tax payer: OK. I understand that social contract. I pay; you provide. Please show me what my tax dollars provide my student.

School district: No. And further more, we’ll sue you using the ‘Pay your taxes to us, or men with guns will show up at your door to throw you in jail, and confiscate your property’ dynamic to punish you for even asking.

Kafkaesque h3llscape, defined, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. FED UP YET?!

DEFUND the SCHOOLS. Fund the student. School choice is a civil right.

Don’t be on the wrong side of history.

tolerancematters | August 4, 2021 at 3:19 pm

Attachment C of the lawsuit is an article from the Legal Insurrection. The Legal Insurrection must be doing something right to be judged worthy of being included in a lawsuit.

A search reveals that the Washington Post has not covered this story at all. The silence of the progressive media (note that I do not call it the liberal media) speaks loudly.

I just contributed to the Legal Insurrection Foundation today. I know my money will help make a difference.

    We are past “progressive” and fully into Socialist/Communist.

      irv in reply to Edward. | August 4, 2021 at 6:38 pm

      Nah. Skipped right over that stuff and went straight to “Fascist/Totalitarian.” Not that it’s a long distance or anything, but there we are.

      ConradCA in reply to Edward. | August 5, 2021 at 10:56 am

      There is no significant difference between fascism, Nazism, Communism and progressivism. They just use different lies to justify their tyranny.

Antifundamentalist | August 4, 2021 at 4:15 pm

The lawsuit doesn’t make sense? Of course it does. It cost time and money to defend yourelf in court. Along the lines of what was done to Sarah Palin when she was Governor of Alaska – drain her support of resources until she goes away. Doesn’t have to be anything legitimate because lawyers are not penalized for bringing frivolous lawsuits before a judge.

This one is really a stretch, t the point I question whether it is sanctionable. If they have a cause of action, it is against the school district, to enjoin them from disclosing non-public documents. Even that doesn’t seem substantiated on the record. Solas has made a legal request for public documents, there is no cause of action against her by the union, and I seriously question whether they have standing to bring the suit as filed. As such, I can’t see this as anything but a clear SLAPP suit. It will be interesting to see how the court responds. Rhode Island even has legislation against SLAPP suits. If I was the union, I’d be getting ready to pay for her motions to dismiss.

    A Thinker in reply to A Thinker. | August 4, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    I read the Parties statute for RI, and I think they avoid sanctions, as the complaint asks for declaratory relief that the School District be entirely enjoined from producing documents absent prior court approval, which does affect Solas, making it a requirement that they include her as a party.
    As a parent and a tax payer, the complaint is pretty offensive. Those teachers aren’t just union members, they are actually public employees, paid for by taxpayers. Communications within the scope of their employment, and I would argue this includes their discussions of what to teach and how to teach it, are public records.

      bhwms in reply to A Thinker. | August 5, 2021 at 1:56 pm

      We need to stop using the term “Public” and start using the term “government.” They are government employees [allegedly] teaching in the government schools.

Where can I go to contribute to her legal defense?

The union has no standing and the issue isn’t ripe. Throw the case out of court and sanction the lawyers with contempt.

I can see the interiors of many cars all over the country being suddenly filled with a pink mist.

“Subject to harassment” means be held accountable for their racism.

Democrats absolutely love them some racism.

What? Just because we’re suing you to stop the release of this information doesn’t mean we have anything to hide. That’s ridiculou, why would you say that? Only anti-vax, racist, right wing, conspiracy -fake-news-promulgators would say that. Phffff.

Release the information anyway. Screw the courts. It’s not like they’ve got our back when it matters.

I realize that she is an Attorney, but does anyone know, is there any kind of funding being collected for Ms. Solace? I can’t afford most contributions but will gladly eat Ramen to help destroy the power of any school board or teacher union.

Here’s a far better idea that fighting the unions:

States with Republican majorities should enact measures stating that once a teachers union contract expires in any city or town in the state, it will not be renewed. Instead, teachers will be hired on a case-by-case, meritocratic basis.

The timing couldn’t be better for such an effort. The public has never been more aware of the contempt teachers unions have for their concerns, and the disruption such a move would engender has already been preceded by the disruption of teachers unions keeping kids out of school for more than a year. There is little doubt millions of parents dread a return to the status quo, with a substantial majority of them opposing CRT, along with countless others appalled by an agenda of sexualization that often includes no opt-out clauses for parents who object.

By definition, unions protect and promote the interests of their members. Thus, even under the best of circumstances, children and parents are a secondary consideration — when they’re not being outright dismissed with contempt by “woke” unions and their allies on local school boards.

Now that teachers unions have become completely political, and education itself has devolved into the wholesale indoctrination of children — the most infuriating aspect of which is teaching American students to despise their own nation — it’s time to end the unions’ stranglehold.

Nothing could be more “win-win” for Republicans. The overwhelming majority of Americans want children to learn how to think, not what to think, and allowing contracts to simply expire could be the foremost reframing of an argument in the history of the nation. In short, instead of taking their usual reactive position to an agenda framed by Democrats, Republicans could force Democrats into that position. Make them defend teaching children that color matters more than character, that testing and standards don’t really matter, and that sexual dysphoria should be championed in lieu of biological reality.

Everything is downstream from education. Unions and their Democrat Party allies have made it clear they want a socialist/Marxist future for America and that they have full control over its implementation. It’s time for Republicans to disabuse them of their ambitions — in no uncertain terms.

Quite simply, “Putting Children First” is the mother of all winning campaign slogans.

Lucifer Morningstar | August 5, 2021 at 10:01 am

Would someone please explain to me how the “teacher’s union” has standing to sue Solas to prevent a school district from releasing critical race teaching records that clearly fall under the FOI law?

This is a Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (SLAPP). Mrs. Solis should counter-sue the parties attempting to quash her.
If you have any control over local school funding, use it. Reject any new millage requests and millage renewals, and reject any bond issues. Starve The Beast of money.

    WashRep in reply to Dean V. | August 5, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    Folks should stop using ancient terms like “millage” which dates back to the 1940s (or earlier) when we had physical coins called Mills = 1/1000 of a dollar . That word does not appear in the statutes of at least 3 states that I am aware of.

Interloper5000 | August 5, 2021 at 11:20 am

How can we donate to her?

In the primary we didn’t have much to vote on EXCEPT school board positions. Three candidates vying for one spot on the school board

A military vet who says schools need to get back to teaching because they are failing at the basics. This candidate got 15% of the vote.

The other two candidates were fruitcakes who blathered on about equity and inclusion and all the nonsense that pervails today.

This is in a fruitcake lib city in Wa. We were among the last to open for in person learning. The teachers spent much of the shut down not teaching, yet they had plenty of time to put political / race baiting messages on the chain link fence outside the school.

I’ve come to a point where I actively cheer the pooping drug addicted zombies ripping this town to shreds.

    WashRep in reply to Andy. | August 5, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    I assume you’re referring to the Peoples Commune of Seattle (home of Bagdad Jim). We’re so glad we left the state last year just as the Wuhan Flu arrived.

civisamericanus | August 5, 2021 at 12:52 pm

(1) Critical race theory is educational quackery about as credible as phrenology and astrology.

(2) https://www.jpost.com/bds-threat/anti-israel-item-shot-down-by-largest-us-teachers-union-672973 The vote shows that 23% of the nation’s public school teachers support, at least indirectly, Hamas.

A similar item, New Business Item 26, was proposed in 2019, calling to “educate members and the general public on the apartheid, atrocities, and gross violations of human rights of Palestinian children and families by the State of Israel, funded directly by the United States.” This item was also defeated. If the teachers who supported this are that badly informed about the situation in the Middle East, maybe they are equally uninformed about the subjects they teach.

Two words: “Home schooling”
Three more words: “Charter cyber schools”

FortesFortunaJuvat | August 5, 2021 at 3:56 pm

She needs to counter sue and for an enormous amount.

Why does the teachers union have standing to sue? Surely the legal issue is between the school board/local government and the parent.

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