Providence (RI) Schools Bow To Radical Mob, Remove Whistleblower Ramona Bessinger From Teaching Position
Bessinger blew the whistle on CRT in the classrooms and has been subject to continuous retaliation. Just days after filing a police report after a student protest leader allegedly threatened to kill her, Bessinger without any notice was “removed” from her teaching position, put on involuntary administrative leave pending an “internal investigation” – but she doesn’t know and hasn’t been told what the investigation is about.
The Ramona Bessinger story is beginning to remind me of the Gibson’s Bakery story.
A massive bullying educational institution capitulating to and becoming part of a student and administrative mob trying to destroy a career over claimed (but not real) racial sleights, resulting in a defamation lawsuit. Then it was Oberlin College, now it’s the Providence School District. Then it was David and “Grandpa” Gibson, now it’s Ramona Bessinger.
The Gibson’s Bakery case ended up with an unapologetic institution owing tens of millions of dollars and capturing the ire of the nation. There was no adult in the room at Oberlin College when it came to Gibson’s Bakery. There doesn’t appear to be an adult in the room at the Providence Schools when it comes to Ramona Bessinger. Providence Schools appear to be acting stupidly.
We covered the Gibson’s Bakery case since the inception of the student protests, through the legal wrangling, through the verdicts, appeals, and finally payments. It took almost six years in total. My gut tells me it’s deja vu all over again, but we’re in the early innings.
We have covered Bessinger’s story from inception. In July 2021, then a middle school teacher, Bessinger blew the whistle at Legal Insurrection on a new radicalized and racialized curriculum that was creating racial tension in school, including turning students and staff against her because she is white:
I have been a public school teacher for the past 22 years, with the past seven in Providence, Rhode Island. I have had the honor of serving public school children and their families as an English teacher first at the high school level, and currently at the middle school level.
During my career I have always tried to provide the best education for my students. I am designated by the Rhode Island Department of Education a ‘Highly Qualified’ teacher, meaning, I have tenure and experience in my certifications. I was awarded the English Speaking Union Shakespeare Scholarship for excellence in teaching Shakespeare. I helped implement curriculum and I have hosted multiple student clubs, literary magazines, youth groups and community outreach programs.
I love being a teacher and I care a great deal about my students, almost all of whom are non-white. This past 2020/21 school year was a sad and worrisome turning point for me as an educator. Providence K-8 teachers were introduced to one of the most racially divisive, hateful, and in large part, historically inaccurate curriculums I have ever seen in my teaching career.
Yes, I am speaking about the controversial critical race theory that has infiltrated our public schools here in Rhode Island under the umbrella of Cuturally Responsive learning and teaching, which includes a focus on identities. You won’t see the words “critical race theory” on the materials, but those are the concepts taught. The new, racialized curriculum and materials focuses almost exclusively on an oppressor-oppressed narrative, and have created racial tensions among students and staff where none existed before….
We did not need a new curriculum for students to learn about slavery and racism. We already did that, in great depth, relying in part on the writings of great African-American authors….
What saddened me most was that I would not be teaching the Holocaust any longer. The Holocaust unit included one of the following: either Anne Frank, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, and depending on reading level, Elie Weisel’s Night When I asked the school reading coach where all the Holocaust books were, she said “we do not teach the Holocaust because kids can’t relate to the story.” …
This was a system-wide directive to separate white and non-white teachers for training….
Finally, for some students, standing for The Pledge of Allegiance was no longer something they did. We are not allowed to question why, and the truth is, I knew why. Already these young people were beginning to hate America. I was the only person standing and the only person that could be heard saying “liberty and justice for all”.
Midway through the academic year, some students started calling me “America” because I was white. These students, whom I love, were turning against me because of my skin color. I don’t blame them, I blame the racial narratives being forced upon them in school….
Bessinger received national and international media attention:
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board called it Education Horror Show, Continued:
Bad teachers are rarely held accountable, but the public school bureaucracy seems to be less tolerant of teachers who transgress against the Democratic-union establishment. Behold how one middle-school English teacher in Providence, Rhode Island, is being run out after publicly criticizing critical race theory.
The Providence Public School District hauled in Ramona Bessinger on Wednesday for a “pre-disciplinary administrative” hearing because she allegedly let students leave her classroom during a school lockdown related to a fight between a student and staff member. Ms. Bessinger, who has taught for 22 years, denies the charge.
Her real offense is chronicling the alarming effects of critical race theory on students and teachers….
The harassment by fellow teachers and administrative officials increased this year after some media outlets highlighted her story. Last month a union representative at a faculty meeting said teachers were circulating a petition against her. On Oct. 3 she filed an internal complaint about retaliation and a hostile working environment.
The district subsequently issued her a notice alleging that she violated protocols during a school lockdown and calling for a hearing….
The district would be unlikely to win a disciplinary case against Ms. Bessinger for opining online about critical race theory because the Supreme Court in Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) held that the First Amendment protects teachers from retaliation for speaking on matters of public concern. Hence, the district needed a pretext to target her….
After that publicity, Bessinger suffered retaliation, including physical intimidation. Rather than stand up for Bessinger’s rights, Providence Schools involuntary transferred her from middle school to Classical High School, where she sat in a windowless basement for almost a year before finally getting a classroom teaching position after filing a formal grievance. Providence Schools was unwilling to prove its case at a grievance hearing, so it agreed to reinstate Bessinger to a classroom position not long before the hearing was to take place. Bessinger was represented by a union lawyer and also by James Peterson, Esq., of Judicial Watch.
Being back in the classroom, Bessinger declared victory, believing her ordeal finally was over and she could get back to doing what she loved and had been doing for over 20 years, teaching:
I have received notification that coming this fall, I will have a permanent classroom assignment at Classical High. I have been freed from the basement. I’ll be back in the classroom this September sharing literature about the Holocaust, American authors with universal messages to share, historical references and literature that reflects the greatness of America in all her flaws and perfection. I’ll teach universal themes that all children can relate to, my classroom will have characters and poetry free of harmful political activism and full of accuracy. I hope to instill critical thinking, freedom of thought, rigorous activities that promote lively discussion unprompted by curriculum materials filled with propaganda.
It would have been so easy to throw in the towel and step out into the fresh air and sunlight, and leave all that nonsense behind for good. But I persevered with a great deal more that lies ahead.
Now, I can continue to teach children the truth about this great nation and perhaps contribute to the restoration of a politically neutral zone for all children K-12.
Hope was given a chance.
The Wall Street Journal noted on July 25, 2022, A Teacher Triumphs Over the Woke Educational Establishment:
At last some good news from U.S. public education, thanks to one tough teacher who refused to accept the poisonous ideology now enforced in so many classrooms. Regular readers of this column will be especially cheered to read the latest dispatch from Ramona Bessinger via the Legal Insurrection website….
Ms. Bessinger’s victory brings even more—the hope that more teachers will go from quiet anguish to open defiance of a false and destructive rendering of U.S. history.
But it’s never really over, is it? Not when you are deemed a heretic to the identity politics that has captured education at every level. Not when activist student feelings are weaponized by adults. Not when the ultra-radical Rhode Island activist community is howling for you to be fired.
And so, just about a month after resuming her classroom teaching, the mob was after Bessinger again. We chronicled how in Whistleblower Providence (RI) Teacher Ramona Bessinger Under Attack Again, Teachers Helping Organize Student Protest Against Her:
We have just learned that Bessinger’s problems are not over. Some students at Classical are organizing a walk-out and protest against her, aided she has learned by teachers at Classical and her former middle school. Bessinger has provided the names of those teachers to her principal and other administrators and teachers union officials, asking whether it was appropriate for teachers to be organizing students against another teacher.
Ominously, the protest was organized in a threatening fashion:
More worrisome to Bessinger is that the student group has posted on social media instructions for students to cover their faces so they cannot be identified, and has increased the rhetoric against her that increases the possible physical danger to her.
Bessinger provided the following statement:
“It appears my students are being lead by activist mob teachers who tell them I am racist and transphobic. Of course nothing of the sort is true. I care deeply for all my students, and respect their individual rights, and beliefs. This is a targeted attack by the crazy 10 % woke mob that influence children using fear and bullying techniques.”
The protest took place with about 40-50 students in attendance according to a person I spoke with who was there, confirmed by the photos of the event. A left-wing website called “UpriseRI” published photos of the students at the protest and the name of a student who wrote a post for the website attacking Bessinger, and claimed “over 130” students joined the walk out.
We covered the protest in our post, Judicial Watch Demands Providence (RI) Schools Cease and Desist “Retaliation and Harassment” Of Ramona Bessinger:
Then things went from worse, to even more worse. Bessinger was Threatened At School By Student Protest Leader:
The “progressive” community is working itself, and students, into a frenzy on social media encouraging and amplifying the efforts to get Bessinger fired. Accusations Bessinger says are false are spread on websites and Twitter.
[see post link for multiple screenshots]
Bessinger has previously notified the school administration of her concerns for her physical safety. This morning the situation worsened dramatically.
Bessinger says she was walking down a hallway-type area not far from her classroom when she heard shouting at her. It was not until she was closer, only about 10 feet away from a group of students, that she heard one of the student leaders of the protests screaming at her in front of other students that he would kill her: “Fuck you, fuck you. I want to kill you.” He may have screamed other things as well before she realized he was screaming at her.
No other students were screaming at her. Bessinger says she had previously complained to the school about this student hanging around outside her classroom.
She has reported the incident to the school as well as filing a police report….
We have obtained the first police report of the October 4, 2022, incident (there apparently also is a second report with more details, which we will attempt to obtain).
Here is the narrative portion filled out by the Providence Police Officer:
On 10-4-22, at approximately 1230 hours, SRO Reed responded to the Main Office of Classical High School located at 770 Westminster Street for a report of student threatening a teacher. Upon arrival, SRO Reed was met by Assistant Principal Brian Baldazzar who stated a teacher was apparently threatened by student in the hallway.
Baldazzar stated to SRO Reed that the teacher identified as [Redacted] and student [Redacted] were passing through the “tunnel” of the school when allegedly [Redacted]t screamed towards [Redacted]r “Fuck you I’m going to kill you.” Let it be noted, Baldazzar informed SRO Reed there have been issues recently regarding [Redacted] and the school students regarding her political issues. SRO Reed later met with the victim [Redacted] who stated she and [Redacted] earlier in the day passed each other and she observed [Redacted]scream “Fuck you I’m going to kill you.” [Redacted]r stated the incident occurred during the passing of classes and there were other students in the area.
Let it be noted, the incident is currently under investigation and TOT YSB Bureau Detective Ramos.
A Twitter account apparently affiliated with the school “queer and trans students” group Classical Liabilities that helped launch the campaign against Bessinger, posted about the incident, sharing a redacted screenshot that appears to be from the student in question, confirming that the student screamed at Bessinger, although the student made no mention of screaming about killing her.
The admission by the Assistant Principal to the police as recorded in the police report that the dispute was over “her political issues” could come back to haunt the Providence Schools. Bessinger’s “political issues” have resulted in more disciplinary action against her.
In a letter dated October 7 but received by Bessinger today (October 8), the Providence Schools informed Bessinger she was being put on administrative leave with pay, was barred from any interaction with staff, students, or parents, and was under “internal investigation” (emphasis added).
Effective immediately you are hereby placed on Administrative Leave with Pay and removed from duty from your present position of Teacher at Classical High school pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
You are to continue on paid Administrative Leave until further notice. During your leave, you must not enter any District property without advance permission from the Office of Human Resources. Likewise, you are instructed that you must not have any direct or indirect contact with District staff, students, or parents; this includes electronic communication such as email, calling/texting, and social networking sites. Further, you are not permitted to utilize District property, including the District’s server or email service. You must immediately return any District property in your possession, custody, or control, including computers and keys, to the Office of Human Resources.
The letter was the first Bessinger heard about being put on administrative leave or that she was under internal investigation. She does not know, and has not been told, what the internal investigation relates to.
I reached out to Providence Schools seeking comment, including as to what the internal investigation regards, but have not received a response as of this writing.
Having won reinstatement after a long legal battle, the Providence Schools are coming back against Bessinger again. It’s never really over until the jury sings, is it?DONATE
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