A school board in Tennessee brought up a resolution Thursday to censure an outspoken member who has criticized local officials involved in an alleged attempt to indoctrinate children. The resolution to censure was board member Susan Curlee was introduced by fellow member Robert Hullett.
Curlee has been trying to bring attention to what she sees as a potential and growing problem in her community and many others across the country. She alleges that union groups have a strangle hold on teachers and administrators, and that curriculum has become more progressive as a result.
“They developed a strategic partnership to come in and enforce some of these progressive agendas specific to education,” Curlee detailed in a March 24 DCNF article.
The resolution claims Curlee, by going to the media, has violated the board’s ethics code and brought negative and unwarranted attention on the school system by alleging some local officials are behind a national scheme to indoctrinate children with progressive ideas. The resolution states:
The does hereby demand that District 12 Board Member, Susan Curlee cease all public actions negatively impacting the Superintendent, Staff, Teachers, Families, and most importantly, Children of the Williamson County School District.
Curlee however countered the claims, arguing it is her duty as an elected official to inform those she represents of what is happening. She said:
The overarching sentiment is that somehow my actions reflect negatively on the school district and the board which is purely perception. This resolution essentially states I must refrain from bringing forth concerns some may find objectionable.
This would require me to operate from a completely different standard than that of any other public official. I will never forfeit my First Amendment right.
Curlee was able to bring national attention to her town when she alleged that some local officials are secretly tied into an effort to push progressive thoughts onto children. She has alleged organizations like Williamson Strong are nothing more than front groups disguised as local education initiatives and that Williamson is likely not the only community facing this problem.
Curlee also claims national labor unions like the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are some of progressive groups behind the effort.
“The resolution states I did not receive permission from the board chairman prior to my Fox interview, the Daily Caller article or my appearance at the 40th Annual Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionization Conference.”
Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism (CEAFU), a project of the Nation Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, invited her to speak at its annual conference back in March.
“My constituents watch Fox News, read The Daily Caller, and listen to talk radio,” she went onto say. “As an elected public official, it is my duty to communicate in venues where my constituents consume news and information.”
Curlee also alleges that Hullett, like other local officials, is directly connected to the very groups that she has been outspoken about.
“Mr. Hullett has expressed his on-going interaction with two groups, Williamson Strong (Strong Schools, Strong Communities) and Protect WCS,” she continued. “During the election and to this day, Mr. Hullett continues to support and advocate for these groups.”
Protect WCS is a Facebook group appearing to coordinate closely with Williamson Strong. Despite the move to keep her quiet, Curlee argues many of her initial claims have already proven to be true, including her accusation that Superintendent Mike Looney is involved.
“I have expressed concern over his activities with these political groups and their negative impact on the district,” Curlee noted. “In recent weeks, the Superintendent has made public statements, including an apology, validating my initial concerns were true.”
Curlee alleges that Looney used his position of power unfairly to advance Williamson Strong’s agenda, including providing the group private email correspondence of board members to which he had access. Back in March, Looney addressed the accusations.
“Some of you have suggested I apologize to specific people,” Looney said according to The Tennessean, a local newspaper, which has been covering the story. “I will say I will apologize if I caused hard feelings for my action. I did what I thought was right at the time. I think honestly it’s been seven months; I really believe it’s time to move beyond that stuff.”
Curlee has also filed a complaint with the state’s Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance back in December which alleges Williamson Strong supported certain candidates and political positions in violation of state law which requires groups to register before taking such actions. The complaint included emails and screen shots of Williamson Strong’s website. The case has been delayed and it is unclear when a decision will be made.
“The next hearing is set for May 13, 2015,” Curlee noted. “The attorney for Williamson Strong did not provide receipts at the last hearing. Affidavits were provided however failed to address services, gifts in kind or other expenditures.”
“I’m hoping that the Election Commission will also request documents that are not readily available, particularly receipts for various expenditures and services,” she continued. “Since Williamson Strong failed to register or submit any receipts, it is not transparent to the general public where funding and support are originate.”
When asked, Williamson Strong noted to TheDCNF it had no comment because it was not involved in the resolution to censure Curlee. The group says its going to respect the process without interfering.
The board will continue discussing the resolution Monday during a televised meeting. Looney and Hullett did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
This report, by Connor D. Wolf, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.