Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

From the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to local school board positions, several conservatives are currently leading or have already won key races on the education front in the 2022 General Election.

As of press time, Republican candidate for SPI Tom Horne had increased his lead in his challenge of incumbent Kathy Hoffman. Horne previously served as SPI from 2003 to 2011, prior to successfully running for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. If the results hold up, Horne says his focus as SPI will be on improving student performance and eradicating Critical Race Theory-based curriculum from Arizona’s public schools.

In the Peoria Unified School District race, Heather Rooks won a hard-fought and challenging race. Her efforts to expose the Social Emotional Learning-based policies and practices in the district eventually led her to request an injunction against an activist parent. As reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, Rooks, a mother of four school-aged children, obtained the injunction based on threats from Democrat activist, Josh Gray.

Two other conservative candidates, Amy Carney and Carine Werner, secured seats on the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board. Their victories serve as a powerful repudiation of out-going Governing Board Member Jann-Michael Greenburg. Greenburg was sued by parents who accused him of trying to silence them after they exposed his secret Google Drive dossier on them. As AZ Free News reported in April, that dossier included a trove of political opposition research on parents, who opposed the district’s adoption of Social Emotional Learning and Critical Race Theory.

In the race for Flowing Wells School District Governing Board—an area known for being blue—conservative Brianna Hernandez Hamilton is currently holding on to one of two open spots. A mother of three very young children, Hernandez Hamilton ran with the slogan: “Parents + Teachers = Quality Education.”

Kurt Rohrs, a long-time education activist and frequent contributor to AZ Free News, won a spot on the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. Rohrs, like Horne, focused on improving student performance and eliminating the divisive Critical Race Theory from the district’s curriculum. Many see Rohrs’ presence on the board as an opportunity to restore calm to the district which had become the center of controversy thanks to out-going board member Lindsay Love.

In the race for Dysart Unified School District Governing Board, conservative Dawn Densmore was retained by voters. As current president of the board, Densmore successfully led the fight to end the district’s relationship with the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA). Jennifer Drake also won a seat on the board.

Sandra Christensen is set to win a seat on the Paradise Valley Unified School District Governing Board. Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid are in the lead for spots in Fountain Hills. Paul Carver should take a win in Deer Valley. Jackie Ulmer appears to have been successful in Cave Creek as well as Rachel Walden in Mesa and Chad Thompson in Gilbert. In the Higley Unified School District, conservative Anna Van Hoek also won a seat on the board.

In a tweet from earlier this week, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos summed up what many parents have been feeling over the past few years – left out. In response to the National Education Association’s claim that teachers “know better than anyone” what students need in the classroom, DeVos responded, “You misspelled parents.” 

It Is Critical to Drain the School Board Swamp This November

It Is Critical to Drain the School Board Swamp This November

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Public schools are out of control. And it’s going to get worse if we don’t do something about it. Unfortunately, for far too long, school board elections have been some of the most ignored around our state. But whether you have kids in public school, private school, or homeschool—whether your kids are out of school or you don’t have kids at all—this year’s school board election will affect you.

How? Take a look at some of the worst abuses in public school districts in the past year.

A Financial Mess

As a taxpaying citizen, you probably care a lot about where your dollars go. But most school districts don’t share your same concerns. Mesa Public Schools (MPS) is one of them. Back in March, MPS failed to explain where over $32.3 million of their federal emergency funds slated for COVID-related expenditures went—which should’ve resulted in an audit by the State of Arizona.

But Mesa isn’t the only problem…

>>> CONTINUE READING >>>

Scottsdale School Board Member Latest To Be Accused Of Violating State Laws

Scottsdale School Board Member Latest To Be Accused Of Violating State Laws

By Terri Jo Neff |

Scottsdale Unified School Board member Jann-Michael Greenburg could be removed from office for actions he undertook last year to circumvent Arizona’s Open Meeting Law, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office does not want taxpayer funds to be spent for Greenburg’s defense.

Those are just some of the items of relief the AGO suggests in its lawsuit filed Monday against Greenburg and SUSD for alleged OML violations in August 2021 when Greenburg -then the board president- cut off speakers during Calls to the Public and barred other speakers from discussing district-related issues even though such comments must be permitted.

Records show the AGO received several complaints last summer about how the SUSD board was conducting meeting at its members were considering a mask mandate and proposed instructional model. The district later told Assistant Attorney General Michael Catlett the board was permitted to apply content-based restrictions on Call to the Public speakers.

However, Catlett’s lawsuit asks a Maricopa County judge for a judgment that Scottsdale Unified School District and Greenburg violated the OML during the cited meetings. The AGO also seeks an order prohibiting SUSD from expending any public monies for Greenburg’s legal representation, although any civil penalty ordered upon Greenburg would be paid for from the District’s general fund.

The AGO’s lawsuit makes clear that a public body is not required to offer a Call to the Public during its meetings and hearings. But if it does, there cannot be undue restrictions on what speakers can say except that the comments must address topics falling within the public body’s jurisdiction.

“Purposefully structuring a meeting so as to apply content-based restrictions on public comments addressing an issue listed on the same agenda and discussed at the same meeting transforms the public comment session into something other than an ‘open call to the public,” according to the lawsuit, which the defendants must answer within 20 days of service.

MORE ON GREENBURG

The AGO’s legal action against Greenburg and SUSD comes just weeks after Vernal Lee Crow of Glendale was sentenced for criminal violations of the state’s Conflict of Interest law while he served as vice-chair of the Arizona School Facilities Board (ASFB)

Crow was indicted in November 2021 for four alleged violations of state law in connection with votes he took part in in 2016 and 2017 despite the decision benefited himself or a family member. He later pleaded guilty to knowingly failing to disclose his association with Red Tree Consulting and failing to recuse himself from a vote in 2016 which awarded $112,000 for a repair job at a school in the Snowflake Unified School District.

As part of the deal, Red Tree Consulting was paid $12,050 of those funds. In addition, Crow pleaded guilty to knowingly failing to disclose another conflict of interest involving Red Tree Consulting which received $42,200 from a roof construction contract approved by the ASFB in 2017 for a school within the Casa Grande Union High School District. 

The Attorney General’s Office is also following a legal challenge filed by a Sierra Vista resident in February 2019 against the Cochise County board of supervisors for appointing one of the supervisors to a lucrative judicial position.

The AGO has submitted numerous briefs in the case, which is scheduled for a trial setting hearing Tuesday morning.

In the case, then-Cochise County Supervisor Pat Call was appointed to a vacancy for justice of the peace at double his county salary. Call did not cast a vote on the appointment, but he was openly involved in a decision to not seek interested applicants for the position despite the fact several were present at the meeting.

Call also took part in an executive session prior to being nominated immediately after the supervisors resumed the public portion of their meeting.

In a rare move, the Greenlee County judge hearing the case at the request of Cochise County’s presiding judge disclosed the normally secret minutes of that executive session. The judge noted “justice so demands” the release.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled last fall that the local resident can sue Call and the other two Cochise County supervisors -Ann English and Peggy Judd- for alleged OML violations. In addition, Chief Justice Robert Brutinel wrote that as a county resident and constituent of the board of supervisors, the resident “has an interest in protecting against self-dealing by Board members.”

It is expected that any trial will not occur until early 2023. English and Judd remain on the county board, although the lawsuit seeks to have them removed from office.

Call completed his term as justice of the peace at the end of 2020. He did not run for the office in the 2020 General Election.

Scottsdale Police Find No Fault With Former School Board President Linked to Parent Dossier

Scottsdale Police Find No Fault With Former School Board President Linked to Parent Dossier

By Corinne Murdock |

Scottsdale Police Department (SPD) closed its investigation into former Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg, demoted to board member, this week after determining it fell outside their jurisdiction. 

SPD reported that it passed the case on to higher levels of law enforcement for review: the FBI, Arizona Attorney General’s Office, and Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. They also clarified that SUSD’s investigation into the matter was still underway. 

SPD spokesman Kevin Quon explained in a press release that the Greenburg dossier contained open source and public documents only. Quon added that higher levels of law enforcement may investigate under their jurisdiction. 

“It was determined that the drive contained open source and/or public documents. Therefore, it has been determined that no criminal conduct has been committed at this time that would be under the jurisdiction of the Scottsdale Police Department,” said Quon. “The Scottsdale portion of this investigation is now closed. Scottsdale investigators have met with the FBI, Arizona Attorney General’s Office, and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, briefed them, and provided them with a copy of our investigation for review in determining if any criminal acts might fall under their respective jurisdictions.”

Greenburg had editing access to the Google Drive dossier that his father, Mark Greenburg, created. As AZ Free News reported, SUSD assured parents that their information was safe in an email following the dossier’s discovery. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of this case, AZ Free News won’t provide links to the dossier.

As part of his efforts to collect information for his dossier, Mark Greenburg would film parents outside of school board meetings using a body camera. He also claimed to have hired a private investigator to bolster his dossier on parents opposed to Jann-Michael. 

Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the Greenburg dossier. In a letter first obtained by Fox News, Brnovich requested that the DOJ specifically look into whether the dossier violated the First Amendment as well as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

“Evidence has been discovered that Scottsdale Unified School District (“SUSD”) board member, Jann-Michael Greenburg, may have conspired to abuse his position of power against Arizona students and their parents,” wrote Brnovich. “A dossier containing information on those who wish to participate in their children’s education and peacefully petition their government should concern all Americans of good conscience.”

The SUSD board voted to remove Greenburg as president last month, though he remains on the board. Scottsdale parents are behind an effort to recall Greenburg from the board entirely.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona’s Establishment Media Proves to Be a Failure in Its Coverage of the Scottsdale School District Scandal

Arizona’s Establishment Media Proves to Be a Failure in Its Coverage of the Scottsdale School District Scandal

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Another school district scandal went viral last week. This time, it was in Scottsdale. But there’s a good chance that you didn’t hear about it from Arizona’s establishment media. Because once again, they were late to the party.

In case you missed it, last week, a group of mothers discovered Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg had access to a secret dossier of parents and other political opposition. But this wasn’t just a collection of social media posts.

The dossier included records of nursing licenses, divorces, mortgages, family trees, bankruptcies, civil and criminal charges, and a slew of other personal information. Allegedly compiled by Jann-Michael’s father, Mark, it also included pictures and videos of the children of his perceived political opposition. And a file on acclaimed radio host James T. Harris also appeared in the dossier.

But there’s even more to the story.

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