Greenwich Schools Boland Report: Lasting Disrepute, but No Evidence of Discrimination

On Monday GFP sent an Freedom of Information Act request to Greenwich Schools for the results of their investigation of Jeremy Boland, the former Assistant Principal at Cos Cob School.

The investigation was ordered by Schools Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones following the release last August of an edited video made from secret recordings of Mr. Boland where he claimed to screen teacher candidates by their age and religion.

On the video Mr. Boland, who had been a PE teacher for 12 years and worked his way up to Program Coordinator and then to Assistant Principal, talks about not hiring Catholics and his preference for hiring younger staff.

He was placed on leave the morning after the video was posted.

While on leave Boland sent the district a letter of resignation, which Dr. Jones accepted in March.

The investigation was conducted by Jonathan Budd, Ph.D., the district’s Chief Human Resources Officer.

The report, which is dated October 4, 2022, was provided to GFP within a half hour, of request and an additional email from Dr. Jones followed minutes later.

The report is just the first to result from several investigations launched after the video, recorded by an unnamed employee of Project Veritas, went live. It was the first in a four-part series, “The Secret Curriculum.”

The video went viral.

James O’Keefe, then leader of Project Veritas, came to Greenwich on Aug 31, 2022 when Leora Levy, a Republican candidate for US Senate, held a press conference outside Cos Cob School. Republican candidates railed against alleged teaching of CRT and warned against indoctrination. Supporters held up signs saying, “Clean House,” and “Educate, Don’t Indoctrinate.” Local Republican candidates Peter Sherr, Ryan Fazio and Kimbery Fiorello, as well as St. Roch’s Church pastor Father Carl MacIntosh joined Mr. O’Keefe at the podium where he chastised local print, online and broadcast media. “Our journalism rises to a standard far above and beyond the standard of any journalism that you do,” while pointing to local reporters and TV crews.

Dr. Budd, in his 59-page report, went through a list of Greenwich Public Schools policies and determined they were likely not violated, including the GPS policy against discrimination, but rather it was Mr. Boland’s admitted “grandstanding” and “embellishment” to impress an individual that caused the lasting damage.

Not only did Budd not find evidence of discriminatory intent or outcome, he said the interview question documents undercut Boland’s statements on the video that he devised questions to discern candidate’s political or religious views.

Dr. Budd wrote in the conclusion of his report that Mr. Boland maintained credibility and forthrightness throughout the investigation, and admitted he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” by what transpired.

“The statements themselves, even if inaccurate, do not a good example set, and certainly raise questions about his fitness as an administrative employee of the district,” Budd wrote.

Dr. Budd said the video left a lasting perception and wrote that given the enormity, the gravity, and expansiveness of the statements made by Mr. Boland, it would seem impossible he could continue serving as an administrator, “which requires that one be viewed as a credible individual expressing full support for non-discriminatory employment practices, classrooms free from political ideology, and parents as key partners in the education system.”

The report concluded with a recommendation to begin termination proceedings.

Dr. Budd wrote that the school district, the Town and individual staff members received phone calls, e-mails, and in-person visits from thousands of outraged members of the public.

He said that the damage to Greenwich Public Schools, its employees, the Town of Greenwich and all its residents came in the form of lasting “disruption” and “disrepute.

Budd investigated 59 hires, and found Mr. Boland was involved in 25 of them.

His report says that when initially interviewed for the investigation, Boland noted the video had been spliced together from clips from three hours of social conversation over the course of three meetings in July.

Budd said Boland did acknowledged being the person in the video and saying those were his words, but denied that the words actually represented his ideas, and that he had tried to make himself look more important in the context of what he believed was a private conversation with a person he had met on a social media app and had presented herself a supportive of certain political ideas. He said he wanted to impress, and to “seem more intelligent, more capable, more of an authority figure.”

He also disclaimed his comments about religious individuals, particularly Catholic individuals, and said he wouldn’t have even known someone’s religion during an interview.

As for his comments in the video about not interviewing people over 30 or “older” individuals, he said that was inaccurate as well.

In addition to investigating all the hires Mr. Boland was involved in, there were extensive document reviews of his email, Google Drive and GPS devices.

Also the investigator conducted 38 interviews with current or retired GPS employees believed to be witnesses to Boland’s relevant conduct.

Overall the analysis corroborated the appropriateness of Boland’s involvement in hiring, with the exception of candidate #42, where Boland issued a letter of intent to hire the candidate for a long-term medical leave replacement of a PE teacher at ISD before posting the job.

The report noted Boland’s personnel file included an incident of prior discipline 16 years earlier in which he was issued a written reprimand for the number of times he attempted to access block sites on the internet.

And while the investigation also concluded it was impossible to corroborate Boland’s claims regarding interviews given the limitations of the job application software that allows applicants to alter or delete their online applications, Dr. Budd said that with the exception of the one procedural impropriety during his four-year administrative career in Greenwich Schools, “This investigation corroborates that Mr. Boland’s statements on the video were, in fact, inaccurate.”

Boland’s resignation went into effect on Friday.

Much has happened in the 10 months since the Project Veritas video was released.

After strenuously defending his organization’s hidden camera tactics, Mr. O’Keefe became the story.

He was forced out this winter by his board after complaints about his treatment of staff and alleged financial malfeasance with donor money. He has since founded a new company, O’Keefe Media Group, and is equipping an “#OMG army of citizens journalists” with tiny cameras.

Meanwhile, taxpayers are footing the bills for several investigations, including Attorney General William Tong, who invoked his civil rights authority to investigate the matter, the Connecticut State Dept of Education, and one ordered by the First selectman Fred Camillo, which he has said will be released in August.

There is no word on when the investigation being conducted by Attorney General William Tong’s office will be released, but he has said his office would investigate how the video was edited. Last September his office sent a letter to Mr. O’Keefe at Project Veritas with notice to preserve all potentially relevant material.

In her follow up email to the FOIA request, Dr. Jones said intent of the district’s investigation was to determine if an employee violated Greenwich Public Schools Board of Education Policy, and if so, to recommend discipline.

She noted district had cooperated in full with each of the investigations and hoped to receive those reports when completed.

“To date, we have provided over 50,000 pages of documents as requested, including our report from Human Resources, and helped provide approximately 100  hours of teacher and administrator interviews from across our district,” Jones said.

Jones add that additional questions will undoubtedly be answered through the other investigations.

Stay tuned…

See also:

Cos Cob School Assistant Principal Resigns; Interview Committee Being Formed March 26, 2023

Dueling Rallies Outside Board of Ed Meeting Reflect Opposing Views Sept 22, 2022

67 Republicans Demand School Administrators Be Put on Leave; Rally Planned Before BOE Meeting Sept 19, 2022

PHOTOS: After Hidden Camera Video Goes Viral, Republicans Demand Accountability Sept 1, 2022

Cos Cob School Assistant Principal Placed on Administrative Leave Aug 31, 2022

Project Veritas Targets Greenwich Schools with “Gotcha” Video Aug 31, 2022

Governor Lamont Responds to Viral Project Veritas Video Aug 31, 2022