As Greenwich reacted to a viral video of a Greenwich Schools administrator filmed in July by hidden camera, the first day of school was more like the first day of campaign season.
Wednesday was marked by reactions to the Project Veritas video of Cos Cob School assistant principal Jeremy Boland telling a woman about how he discriminates when hiring teachers. The video, in which he describes weeding out Catholics and applicants over 30 for consideration for jobs, was published Tuesday night.
Greenwich Schools superintendent Dr. Toni Jones announced there would be an investigation and that the district did not promote discriminatory hiring practices based on race, religion, gender or age. She said the district’s curriculum, policies and procedures were strictly enforced by the Board.
By 4:00 on Wednesday, Boland was placed on administrative leave.
At 6:00 Republicans gathered outside Cos Cob School for a press conference organized by Leora Levy who will challenge Democratic incumbent US Senator Richard Blumenthal in November.
In addition to local press, about a half dozen TV news affiliates covered the event.
A crowd of about 50 included Republican elected officials.
Parents held up posters saying “Educate – Don’t Indoctrinate” and “Clean House.”
For many speakers, after more than a year of speaking out at Board of Education meetings against Critical Race Theory, Social-Emotional-Learning and Diversity-Equity-Inclusion in public schools, the hidden camera video was an I-told-you-so moment.
Ms Levy said the superintendent and Board of Education must investigate both the hiring practices and the curriculum in all Greenwich schools. She said Mr. Boland’s discrimination against Catholics and older people was un-American was an “insidious undermining of the American family.”
“What they are doing in trying to divide children, and teaching things like Critical Race Theory and inappropriate sexual curriculum puts the government between the kids and parents – it’s exactly what Castro did when he took over in Cuba. He indoctrinated the children first to spy and inform on their parents. But most of all he replaced (parents) in their minds as a father figure.”
State Senator Ryan Fazio, who is running for re-election in November, said, “The local government needs to act, but the state government also must lead to make sure we have the full trust of the public in our public education system.”
Fazio said all parents should have easy online access to all course material, curriculum and training material.
“We should have great schools that are entirely focused on teaching rigorous curriculum – reading, writing and arithmetic – nothing further,” Fazio added. “The greatest offense that we saw on that 12-minute video was without a doubt the notion that our public education system does not answer to parents.”
State Rep Kimberly Fiorello said parents had been sounding the alarm for months but had been ignored.
“They see real evidence of the politicization of education in Connecticut. Parents want politics out of their schools and they are demanding a focus on core academics and academic excellence.”
She said Mr. Boland had broken the law.
She said there would be “happy families and bright futures” if there was school choice.
“I can’t help but think that this kind of bigotry and illegal hiring practice is allowed to fester because we have a government monopoly-centric education system in our state,” she said. “Families should have options to find schools that meet their children’s unique needs, that match their family values and are in line with their family traditions.”
Peter Sherr, who will face Democrat Hector Arzeno for State Rep in the 151st district in November, described a “toxic culture” in parts of the Greenwich Schools system, and said Mr. Boland should not be treated as a scapegoat or rogue actor.
“That there is bias and bigotry that we cannot tolerate in our school system. I’d like to think that it is limited to Mr. Boland. But 12 years I can say with a high degree of confidence that Mr. Boland is not alone,” Sherr said.
“If you’ve been following along, this will be the fifth incident of a rogue actor in the last 18 months,” Sherr said. “We need an independent, top to bottom, evaluation of everything of everything that has gone on in Greenwich Public Schools, with a deep view on the actions of the most senior administrators…”
After the candidates spoke, James O’Keefe from Project Veritas chastised the media, pointing to the row of TV cameras and reporters.
“Even as I stand here today there are some people who were not willing to interview me about the story,” he said to cheers.
Greenwich Time’s schools reporter asked Mr. O’Keefe about the circumstances of the Boland interview.
“He was in a public place sharing his thoughts with one of our undercover journalists,” O’Keefe said.
“Why did he agree to meet up with her? Was he on a date?” she asked.
“He knew he was being spoken to, and he was in a public place,” O’Keefe said.
“Our journalism rises to a standard far above and beyond the standard of any journalism that you do,” he said to cheers. “We stand by it.”
Criticism of Project Veritas’ deceptive tactics is not new. The Washington Post wrote that mainstream news organizations discourage the methods that O’Keefe’s group regularly uses.
“Journalists say the best investigative reporting is done without deception and through the hard work of building cooperative sources and gathering data,” the Washington Post wrote.
The New York Times published a story titled, Project Veritas and the Line Between Journalism and Political Spying, that mentioned the group’s alleged use of the dating app Tinder to deceive subjects of investigations.
The American Federation of Teachers Michigan wrote, “Project Veritas operates under the guise of citizen journalism, but serves a conservative political agenda without adhering to basic journalistic ethics.”
O’Keefe said the Boland video was just part one of the story, and that another tape would come out Thursday, and another tape after that.
Cos Cob School Assistant Principal Placed on Administrative Leave
Governor Lamont Responds to Viral Project Veritas Video
Project Veritas Targets Greenwich Schools with “Gotcha” Video