“There’s no need for raising your voice. You do have a microphone,” said Karen Freeman at a recent meeting of the Northside ISD board of trustees.
Some observers understood her statement and tone as condescending and patronizing, totally dismissive of the pain of the mother who had just exposed serious issues within the school district under Freeman’s leadership as board president.
Brandi Lininger had just stated that her traumatized 10-year-old daughter had been unable to sleep in her own room because “she feared that she would have no control over the nightmares if she would fall asleep.”
Lininger spoke during the “Citizens to be Heard” portion of San Antonio-based Northside ISD’s regular board meeting, where she described a critical race theory-driven and racist social experiment that divided children according to hair color for an entire day. Teachers then ensured light-haired children were mistreated and dark-haired children were praised as superior.
“A week later, the same group of fifth-graders [were] forced to watch a documentary containing gruesome autopsy photos of little girls that were killed in a bombing, displaying their breasts, their charred skin, and the remains of one little girl whose head was blown off by an explosion,” said Lininger.
She was referring to the 1997 documentary by Spike Lee, “Four Little Girls,” which is rated TV-14. The fifth-grade teachers showed this to children as young as 10 years old, without parental permission or even notification.
Lininger revealed that this whole plan was not just a single teacher’s idea, but one designed among the entire fifth-grade staff of Leon Springs Elementary School during at least four meetings, and with the administration’s knowledge.
Freeman’s dismissive response to Lininger came shortly after reading a script prior to public comments, stressing how much the board values and listens to public comments. However, Freeman’s response was likely no surprise to parents in the room. For at least two years, Northside ISD parents have begged the board to listen to them.
Nevertheless, the school board (led by Freeman, who also serves on the board of directors for the Texas Association of School Boards) has not listened.
For example, despite parent protests, the board maintained a mask mandate for months longer than their nearest cohort, North East ISD, and long after Governor Abbott had issued an executive order prohibiting mask mandates.
Another issue for parents is the sexually explicit materials available and promoted to their children. At the recent board meeting, Thomas Scales, a father in NISD, told the board he wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt “that you didn’t know that these books are in your classrooms and curricula, but parents have told you.”
However, Scales had spoken a year earlier on the same concern about licentious books that don’t belong in the classroom.
“At this point, I have to assume that y’all approve of this. You approve of this being presented in the classrooms,” said Scales.
Scales read excerpts from what most parents would deem a sexually explicit, age-inappropriate book by George M. Johnson, titled “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” The book had been read aloud by freshmen students in at least one Northside ISD classroom at Stevens High School.
Before he could finish reading flagged passages describing graphic sexual acts, trustee M’Lissa Chumbley said, “I agree with you completely, and I want to find out—,” when fellow trustee Dr. Carol Harle chimed in with an attempt to quiet the father, “I think you’ve made your point.”
“I think you’ve made your point,” Chumbley quickly echoed.
In other words, two mature adult trustees decided they’d heard enough of the graphic description of sex read aloud, even though Scales had time remaining and even though this same content was being read aloud in a classroom by 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds at the district they and their colleagues oversee.
No student could stop being forced to hear more, yet the trustees used their authority to stop it. Students are captive audiences, taught to obey and respect what teachers are requiring of them or face possible discipline.
Chumbley and Harle’s colleagues were silent and asked no clarifying questions.
After Scales left the microphone, audience members applauded. President Freeman immediately shut down the applause, even though it did not disrupt a speaker or the meeting in any way.
Moms for Liberty Bexar County also gave testimony on related topics, as did other parents.
Notably, two NISD fathers who spoke are also candidates for elected office. Dr. Michael Stevens is an educator and candidate for Texas State Board of Education District 1, and Kyle Sinclair is a candidate for U.S. House District 20. Both spoke as concerned Northside ISD fathers.
It is no small task for a superintendent and board of trustees to ensure no violations of laws or parental or constitutional rights occur, but it is the duty of public servants to take corrective action when such issues are brought to their attention.
As Lininger told the board, “They are our children,” and, “You work for us.”
The entire meeting can be viewed here.
Northside ISD has four trustee positions up for election in 2023: Districts 1, 2, 3, and 4. Candidates can file to run in January 2023.
Northside ISD is home to more than 100,000 students. Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods, who has been the Texas Association of School Administrators president for the past two years, earns a base salary of more than $343,000 plus benefits.
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