“I have two young kids at the beginning of their school lives. It means everything to me to be able to trust their school district.”

“Their education is the foundation of the rest of their lives. I want kids that are able to critically think and that understand the world they’re living in accurately. Making sure my kids are getting an education not an indoctrination will ensure they’re on a life path for success and not for feeling guilty about who they are. I thought these issues were things you read about in history books that we moved on from as a country. Now, as an adult, I’m fighting this battle on behalf of my kids and it feels like the country is moving backwards. It’s a battle that I don’t want my children to have to fight, so it means everything to me that these kids get the education that they deserve.”

“In particular, there’s one class, Global Learners’ Initiative, which is an elective class for middle and high schoolers. The basis of it seems good, like nothing that anybody would have any kind of qualms about. The gist was to train students to be global learners and understand different cultures, things of that nature which sounds like a good thing to me.”

“It turns out the class was putting out all of this propaganda all over school, putting signs and posters up and making videos that would be played in all the different classrooms. Clearly, it was a political-oriented class that had no counterpoint to it that we could see. One video in particular produced by middle school students said America was founded on racism—it was extremely inaccurate contextually. Rewriting the founding of the country was kind of the big concern here in the district.”

“Parents started showing up to school board meetings en masse wanting to comment and wanting to share what they’ve seen their kids bringing home. The more parents started showing up to these meetings, the more they started communicating and organizing a little bit.”

“At one point, we decided no longer was this just a discussion, we had to take some proactive steps to start to take this district back. My wife and I decided to file a FOIA request for eight different points and we wanted any kind of documents or correspondence from district employees, administrators, or board members on those. The original FOIA came back with 400,000 documents that met our search criteria and the fee was over $400,000.”

“We ended up taking six categories out. They found 2,000 documents and the fee was going to be a little over $2,000. Thankfully, the community banded together and we raised the funds to pay this fee within two weeks. To be honest, it was clear the district wasn’t on my side; they had stonewalled us at every turn. At the very least, it seems like the district being open and transparent would be beneficial for everyone so, even if we could get the documents to show that nothing nefarious is going on, that’s beneficial. I’d sure like to know that I can trust the district that’s educating my kids.”

“The FOIA director over at the district was calling me on the phone. She was trying to talk me out of it, telling me ‘there’s nothing to see here, it’s really a waste of time and money’ and they’re really busy with this COVID stuff and it’s a strain on their resources.

“To prove there’s nothing to see, she offered to send me 20 documents from the request so I could get a taste for what’s really in them and decide then if I wanted to move forward. I said that doesn’t really prove anything, but to go ahead and send them. She sent them and I looked them over and, of course, there’s nothing shocking in there. Just taking them at their word defeats the entire point of transparency, so I told her we are going to move forward with the request.”

“Now I’m wondering if there’s more to it; I don’t see any other reason why you’d put so much work into trying to dissuade someone from doing something. Her title is literally FOIA director, her job is to process these things and she’s trying to dissuade me from having her do her work so, of course, I’m thinking now maybe there is something in there. If there is, I’d prefer to know about it than be in the dark.”

Dan Patterson
Ada, Michigan