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Tipsheet

A Teacher's Union is Suing a Mother For Repeated Attempts to Know What Her Kindergartener is Learning

When it comes to legal battles over Critical Race Theory (CRT), teacher's unions are not merely willing to defend themselves from lawsuits, they're filing them as well. On Monday, Nicole Solas, a Rhode Island mom whose daughter will be going into kindergarten, was sued by chapters of the National Education Association (NEA) for submitting multiple requests to find out what her daughter was learning when it comes to lesson plans on concepts such as transgenderism and Critical Race Theory (CRT).

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The National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) and NEA South Kingstown (NEASK) filed a complaint in Rhode Island Superior Court to prohibit the disclosure of the requested records and "protect teachers' privacy rights" when it comes to records that Solas was requesting access to.

Ashley Cullinane's report for local NBC 10 News includes a statement from NEARI Communication Director Stephanie DeSilva Mandeville:

"This action seeks to temporarily restrain the School Department from releasing any information related to these APRA requests," the union wrote in a statement. "NEARI believes many of these documents are not public records as defined under APRA and/or fall under APRA’s exclusions and therefore are not subject to disclosure."

When asked if NEA is perhaps buying time, Solas told Townhall that "I believe that they are" and "that it is frivolous litigation meant to bully me. Private information is already not disclosed under RI law because it's the Access to *Public Records Act," she emphasized. "NEA wants special treatment."

She also shared that "I believe this NEA lawsuit is collusive litigation where the school and union set up this lawsuit behind closed doors, each agreeing to play plaintiff and defendant. The school is more than happy to agree not to fulfill my record requests in court."

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Solas has been trying to seek answers about her daughter's curriculum for months.

As the Goldwater Institute, which is representing her, posted:

Like many parents, Nicole was concerned about whether her daughter would be exposed to politically charged curriculum in the classroom. So in April, Nicole emailed the principal of her school in the South Kingstown School District asking for the kindergarten curriculum—and whether it would include teaching children politically charged materials, including those influenced by Critical Race Theory and gender theory, holding them out to be true. She immediately faced stonewalling from the school, and even a threat of legal action for asking too many questions. Ultimately, Nicole received a bill for $74,000 to fulfill a public records request filed by the Goldwater Institute on her behalf in July.

Solas had sent over 200 requests in the past few months. She told Townhall that she filed public record requests because that's what the school told her to do. The South Kingstown School Committee initially threatened to sue her during a public school board meeting in June. 

During a June school board meeting, Emily Cummiskey, the committee’s chairwoman, claimed Solas' requests were "an attempt to wreck havoc" and "a clear attempt to harm our district."

Further, Cummiskey smeared Solas as being "linked directly to a national racist group called Parents Defending Education, working to spread chaos and confusion and dismantle anti-racism education..." 

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As William A. Jacobson with Legal Insurrection reported about the smears:

My suspicions were further heightened when, in response to Nicole going public with the lawsuit threat, School Committee Chair Emily Cummiskey issued very vicious attacks on Nicole on Facebook, to the local media, and then at the June 2, 2021, public forum, accusing Nicole of being associated with a national racist group, which Cummiskey identified at the public meeting as Parents Defending Education (PDE). The accusation that PDE is “racist” is outrageously false, as I’ve previously explained, and there is no evidence that PDE was behind Nicole’s requests.

Jacobson has been following Solas and her story for months.

This includes when it comes to the revelation that Cummiskey made such charges after being told to do so by a public relations firm. Solas told Townhall that she asked for documents, but was told they were exempt from public disclosure.

As Jacobson noted in a June 9 post:

My suspicions were confirmed, in part, last night during a School Committee public meeting when Cummiskey gave a statement announcing she was stepping down as Chair, though not from the School Committee entirely. Cummiskey stated that she did not write the statement attacking Nicole and accusing PDE of being racist. She said the statement in its various forms for media, social media, and public hearing, was prepared by a Public Relations firm hired by the School Committee at the recommendation of the Committtee’s legal counsel.

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Solas also recently tweeted leaked slides from a June 7 meeting where she was smeared by name, with a screenshot of her appearance on "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

One of the slides discussing Solas was titled "#1-Attack on Public Education" and claimed that Solas is "Part of a well-coordinated effort from outside groups with outdated thinking who want to push for inaccurate lessons to fuel division among our South Kingstown community."

Solas and her attorney, Jon Riches of the Goldwater Institute, appeared on "FOX News Primetime" Friday to discuss the matter. Solas offered that "they thought I would just go away and wouldn't keep asking my questions," and that the lawsuit is an attempt for her to do that. She said "I'm not scared of this," though. Solas also pointed out the lawsuit is "a pure intimidation tactic" and "is just meant to deprive me of my civil right to access information about what my daughter is learning."

She emphasized during the segment that "we have to know what our kids are learning in school, because we're the only ones that are going to stand up for them."

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Ritchie gave assurances that they were going to get this lawsuit, which he called "a brazen assault on every parent's right to know what their child is going to learn," dismissed. He also pointed out that public record laws were "never intended to let the knives against the people they were supposed to protect."

Solas offered that this will ultimately backfire on the teacher's union, as she steadfastly shared that the unions want their teachers to have "special treatment beyond the scope of the Public Records Act, but they're not entitled to that because these aren't their kids."


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