The night before grade 6 and 9 orientation in Greenwich Schools, Project Veritas, a conservative group founded by James O’Keefe in 2010, dropped what appears to be the first of a multi part gotcha video series revealing alleged liberal bias in Greenwich Schools hiring and curriculum.
Mr. O’Keefe introduced himself to Greenwich last March when he came to the Delamar to promote his book, American Muckraker. The event was organized by Jackie Homan, who is the face of Greenwich Patriots. She said at the time that the event was not a Patriots event, but rather a personal effort she organized with her friend George Skakel. (The event was promoted through the Greenwich Patriots daily e-blast and on their website.)
The event took place at the Delamar Hotel after being bumped from the Arch Street Teen Center in response to complaints. During the talk, O’Keefe shared details of his arrest at his home in Mamaroneck, which was raided by federal agents in November 2021 as part of an investigation into the reported theft of a diary belonging to Ashley Biden, President Joe Biden’s daughter.
It seems O’Keefe wasn’t done with Greenwich.
In Part 1 of the new Project Veritas hidden camera exposé, Jeremy Boland, assistant principal at Cos Cob School, is filmed without his knowledge during a chat with a woman in what appears to be a series of bars or restaurants. The video is labeled July 2022.
In the heavily edited video, Boland talks about hiring “young” and “progressive” candidates for teaching positions. His most objectionable comments were against Catholics: “Protestants in this area are probably the most liberal. But if they’re Catholic – conservative…You don’t hire them.” And: “If someone is raised hardcore Catholic, it’s like, they’re brainwashed – you can never change their mindset.”
The Project Veritas feature story image shows four faces, with Mr. Boland’s face visible and three others blurred out, suggesting there are three other shoes to drop.
Meantime, texts and emails are flying across town.
On Tuesday night, local attorney Lindy Urso emailed the Board of Education and superintendent’s office, and copying the first selectman, to demand Boland’s resignation. “I implore you to act with the utmost dispatch in removing this person from his employment in our school system,” Urso wrote.
Greenwich Schools superintendent Dr. Toni Jones emailed all Greenwich Schools families Wednesday morning to say the administration had been made aware of the video late Tuesday night.
“We intend to do a full investigation and until that time, we will not make any public statements,” she wrote. “We ask that you respect the investigation process during this time.”
Jones did go on to say, “We do not, however, support any opinions that promote discriminatory hiring practices based on race, religion, gender, or age in any way, and we want to remind our entire community that our curriculum policies and procedures are strictly enforced by our Board.”
Board Chair Kathleen Stowe said in an email, “This is clearly troubling and is being investigated. However, to be clear the Board and our policies and practice do not support any opinions that promote discriminatory hiring practices based on race, religion, gender or age in any way.”
Michael-Joseph Mercanti-Anthony also shared a response by email Wednesday morning, saying, “As a Catholic, a conservative, and an educator, I was appalled by the sentiments expressed in the video, which are not the values of our community. Yet nor is it in keeping with our values to secretly video people and post their comments on the internet. Discrimination is unchristian, yet so are these gotcha tactics.”
Mercanti-Anthony said that as a board, it will be important to continue to work towards making district curricula available and transparent to families.
“We also need to take a step back and consider how the implicit biases of staff may be subtly influencing our day to day operations,” he added. “There is a lot here that is extremely concerning, but the path forward must be civil discourse, not gamesmanship. We have to model a better way of solving these real issues for our youth.”
Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo posted a comment on Facebook calling for a full investigation of Boland and review of hiring practices.
Camillo, who taught briefly at Port Chester High School, said, “As a former educator, and a former Cos Cob School student who grew up in the shadow of the building, this hits home. To think that Roman Catholic applicants may have applied for teaching positions and not received proper consideration due to their religion seems like something from a bygone era, not 2022.”
“Brainwashing and indoctrination have no place in halls of learning, or anywhere else, for that matter,” Camillo added. “The goal should always be education, not indoctrination.”
As the town waits on tenterhooks for additional videos to hit the internet, one wonders if people filmed without their consent or knowledge over the summer even remember what they thought were private conversations over a drink in a bar.
Commenters on Facebook have asked if this undercover tactic is legal.
In California all parties to any confidential conversation must give their consent to be recorded. Both civil and criminal penalties are available to victims of illegal recordings.
In the case of hidden cameras in Connecticut, the state requires at least one party’s consent to record an in-person conversation.
According to their website, Veritas follows the one-party consent rule. “We do not break the law. We maintain one-party consent when recording someone is inherently moral and ethical.”
The one-party consent rule means any one party to a conversation can consent to its recording. But states also have their own laws. Some follow the one-party consent rule, others require the one doing the recording get the consent of all parties in a conversation before recording it.