When a policy intended to create racial equality treats students differently based on the color of their skin and buries serious wrongdoing in the name of diversity, real victimhood is ripe for the making and injustice is bound to flourish.
An Obama-era diversity-themed education directive has been doing just that, according to educators, anti-school violence advocates, and guardians of student victims. Whistle-blowers have uncovered the ushering in of seemingly avoidable rapes, sexual assaults, suicides, murders, and vicious bullying within the halls of our public schools due to a threatening federal guidance issued in 2014.
Education Week explains that the civil rights guidance, which was jointly issued by the Departments of Education and Justice, “put schools on notice that they may be found in violation of federal civil rights laws” or denied federal grants “if they enforce intentially discriminatory rules or if their policies lead to disproportionately higher rates of discipline for students in one racial group, even if those policies were written without discriminatory intent.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is looking to potentially rescind the directive in light of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The killer left a seemingly endless trail of warning signs that were arguably ignored because of a Broward Country policy that was created in partnership with local police authorities. Manhattan Institute senior fellow Max Eden told Michael Knowles of The Michael Knowles Show that the Broward County PROMISE program, which was apparently a model for the Obama Administration directive, led to the burying of warning flags. “When we’re asking, there were so many warning flags, how were all these warning flags missed? Well, the policy was to try to not notice them, try to not process them,” he said.
Last week, DeVos discussed the problematic “Dear Colleague” letter — this was written in the same flavor as the 2011 Obama era Title IX “Dear Colleague” letter concerning sexual assault on college campuses — in two closed-door meetings; one with a group of proponents of the guidance and another with a group of opponents, mostly comprised of parents of student victims, teachers, and advocates against school violence. While the former group would seemingly argue that holding minority children to a different standard is in the best interest of promoting racial equality, the latter group shared horror stories wrought by the Obama guidance.
For example, The Daily Wire learned from a meeting attendee that Eileen Sofa, the mother of a non-verbal autistic boy who was reportedly sodomized by another student with a long history of sexual misconduct, was one powerful voice present at the briefing.
The Voice of San Diego reported that the student who assaulted Sofa’s son had “a long history of violent and sexual offenses and brought a box cutter to Lincoln High, which could be considered a dangerous weapon,” but still the school administration did not attempt to expel him.
A teacher’s aide from the school who learned of the assault felt he had no other option but to turn to a reporter to expose the incident, due to school pressure to non-report. Sofa learned of her son’s assault from the reporter. The aide, described as a “dedicated” and “caring” educator, eventually committed suicide after feeling ostracized from the school for his whistle-blowing.
“The briefing included Nicole Stewart, a former vice principal at Lincoln High School in San Diego, where she says a disabled, nonverbal student was sexually assaulted, but the school recorded the incident as an ‘obscene act.’ She talked about a teacher’s aide who was extremely frustrated by how the school handled the situation and later committed suicide,” reported Education Dive.
Months later, the boy confessed to assaulting the special-needs student in a bathroom at the school.
“How do we expect our kids or our students to learn to respect the rights of others and obey the laws?” asked Stewart. “We are not modeling what consequences look like in the real world.”
And this is just one of the countless, arguably avoidable, savage incidents trickling down from the diversity directive.
Nicole Landers, a pediatric nurse, mother of six, and advocate against school violence, told The Daily Wire that her fiftth grade daughter Tama shared her story of being sexually assaulted in school to Secretary DeVos at the meeting. Landers’ daughter was the only student victim in attendance; other victims were represented by their guardians.
“She was groped by the offending peer repeatedly and the school did not follow state discipline policy in disciplining him,” Landers told The Daily Wire in an email. Tama attends Pine Grove Elementary in Baltimore, Maryland. She continued, “Instead they informed me that the offending student has ‘rights’. My daughter was left repeatedly victimized by both the student and the system.The student was not ever suspended, or even removed from her class.”
“She is strong,” Landers said of her daughter. “She wants to help the children of the nation have safer schools.”
Tama’s assaulter has been placed in her Spanish class next school year, The Daily Wire was informed.
Landers has three other children in the Baltimore Country Public School District, all of whom have suffered from the federal policy, she says, including her autistic son. In 2016, for instance, Landers’ son Justin “observed a fellow classmate brandish a concealed hunting knife and make a threatening ‘stabbing’ gesture toward another classmate.” After Justin reported what happened, Landers “was told there would be an investigation. I was also told that by law I would not be permitted to know the outcome of the investigation.”
The student somehow found out that Justin reported him to school officials and subsequently threatened him. “I asked AP [Assistant Principal] Lancaster if the school would help me in the filing of a police report since I had no identifying information for the offending student. The school denied assistance,” she recalled. “I took my son, left the school and later that evening took him to the local precinct to file a report related to the student’s threat.”
When reporting the incident to authorities, Landers says one officer succinctly revealed the main problem of the diversity policies in one telling conversation. “Ma’am, the schools do not typically report events to us. We don’t really know the things that go on in there. So please teach your kids to call 911. Instead of going to the office for help, walk outside and dial 911. That is really the only way we can come in. If we come, then we can document the event,” the officer reportedly told the mother of six.
In another brutal example, a Bronx high school student was stabbed to death in a history class by fellow student Abel Cedeno, who murdered his classmate with a $30 switchblade in September 2017.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was slammed by critics for his public school policies that also looked to bypass the alleged “school-to-prison pipeline” for minority children, in accordance with the Obama directive. “Law enforcement officials, high-ranking educators and other critics say de Blasio has instituted a number of policies that make it harder for arrests and suspensions to take place at schools,” reported The New York Daily News.
“I blame de Blasio. He’s responsible for it,” said New York City Parents Union president Mona Davids. “He wants to remove most of the scanners from schools. And he made it just about impossible for principals to suspend students.”
Landers started a Facebook group dedicated to stopping school violence due to the experiences she’s had with her own children because of the policies. Parent2Parent Network, which was founded by Landers and her husband Josh, has compiled endless horror stories told by victims’ parents, educators, and school officials, some anonymously given out of fear of a backlash.
“Parents, teachers and staff contact us frustrated, without hope and in need of crisis intervention daily. They tell us stories of fights, bullying, assaults and more! If we worked round the clock we could not possibly help them all,” wrote Landers in a Facebook post. “Teachers report being asked to falsify discipline records, not report assaults against them and are even subject to permanent injury. They feel powerless to protect themselves or their peaceful students.”
One “desperate teacher” told Landers, “Kids and teachers are terrified and tormented. The environment is causing PTSD. Teachers are on medications and in therapy to try to deal with the school environment.”
The sentiment in such testimony was echoed by administrators and educators across the nation.
Former North Carolina public school educator Annette Albright, a member of a minority herself, slammed the policies. The directive “has done more harm than good. It is impossible for teachers to teach in chaotic environments. It is also impossible for students learn in chaotic settings,” she said.
In 2016, WBTV reported that Albright believed that she was let go from her employment “because of a fight caught on camera between her and several students.”
“I can’t even watch the video all the way through anymore because I just don’t know how I took the beating that I did,” said Albright at the time.
Likewise, Ann Miller of the Baltimore County board of education, told The Washington Times that Landers is “not an outlier at all. I’ve heard many, many cases. I have teachers and parents calling me on the phone regularly, crying. I would say every couple of weeks there’s a student video of violent attacks in BCPS that’s posted on social media, or a news report. We see this regularly.”
A minority high school teacher from the Cincinnati Public Schools, Gary Favors, also attended the briefing in opposition to the Obama-era directive. “I’m in an urban setting. They’re not being discriminated against. Their behaviors are what I would call off the chain, and we need to address how to deal with those behaviors,” he stated. Favors said he was planning on telling DeVos, “That Dear Colleague letter isn’t working because it’s tying people’s hands.” “What I want to tell the secretary is that in public school, we have to take everybody who walks in the door. I understand that,” he added. “But if you’re going to tie my evaluation to these state tests, by God, I’m going to have some say-so on who comes in my room, and if they’re disruptive and causing havoc, they’re not going to stay in my classroom.”
Landers told The Daily Wire that DeVos “listened attentively to each and every one of us.” The advocate is hopeful that things will be turned around soon. “But [DeVos] needs a lot of support from the nation,” she noted, and that comes by educating the public.
“The problem is multifaceted, it’s not just these guidelines, but when it comes to why our peaceful students being victimized and re-victimized, this is why,” she added.
Landers succinctly concluded, “However these guidelines were intended, we can’t speak to; the outcome of these guidelines is that all the children are getting hurt,” she explained. “The offending students are not getting identified, assessed and getting appropriate intervention; the victimized students are getting repeatedly victimized; the educators are living in fear of trying to do anything disciplinary in their classrooms for fear of being labeled discriminatory in their actions; the principals are terrified of the central office, so they’re suppressing the data and putting pressure on the teachers to do the same; and the states are worried about the loss of grant funds and CVR investiagtions.”
“And who suffers? The children,” she said.