Schools That Require Teachers to Attend Grooming Training Must Be Held Accountable

Schools That Require Teachers to Attend Grooming Training Must Be Held Accountable

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Once upon a time, teachers were measured by their ability to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. And schools did everything they could to ensure that the teachers they hired were trained properly in these critical subjects.

But now, too many school districts have refocused their priorities, opting to indoctrinate our kids with diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve certainly seen it with the cleverly disguised Marxism inherent to Critical Race Theory. But this isn’t the only avenue the left is using to come after students.

Pushing gender and sexual identity have also become popular. One Arizona school district has even gone so far as to encourage children to replace their “deadname”—the birth name that individuals reject upon transitioning genders—with their preferred name on their school ID. And now, a school in that same district, Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), has required middle school teachers to attend grooming training…

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Scottsdale School District’s Diversity Leaders Promote Drag Queen Storytime After Accusing Black DJ of Blackface

Scottsdale School District’s Diversity Leaders Promote Drag Queen Storytime After Accusing Black DJ of Blackface

By Corinne Murdock |

After making waves for accusing a black DJ of blackface, Scottsdale Unified School District’s (SUSD) social justice professionals marched onward with their work. In the week following accusations from Scottsdale Parent Council (SPC) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee co-chair Jill Lassen and SUSD Equity and Inclusion Committee member Stuart Rhoden against a black DJ for alleged blackface and the school of racism for hiring him, SPC DEI Committee promoted a “Drag Queen Story Hour.” 

Although SPC describes itself as an autonomous support organization for SUSD, it collects dues from SUSD parent and teacher groups annually: parent-teacher organizations (PTO), parent-teacher associations (PTA), and association of parents and teachers (APT).

As first reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, Lassen, a school librarian and self-described “community activist,” and Rhoden, an Arizona State University (ASU) professor, accused the Hopi Elementary PTA of racism at a charity earlier this month for hiring a DJ the pair believed to be wearing blackface. The DJ in question was Koko Kim Hunter, a black man. Hunter performed at a disco-themed charity event that raised over $300,000 for the elementary school.

Days later, the SPC Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee promoted a young adult drag story hour. The event occurs next Tuesday at the One N Ten Chandler Satellite Center in Chandler at 6:30 pm. 

Rhoden complained about the perceived blackface to both the elementary school PTA and principal. Both informed Rhoden that Hunter was black. However, that revelation didn’t stop Rhoden’s accusations. Rhoden doubled down. He insisted in a Facebook post that he never thought Hunter was a white man committing blackface, and that Hunter, though black, may have committed blackface still. Rhoden attached several photos of Hunter and encouraged readers to judge whether Hunter darkened his skin to look more black. He then accused the parents of “cultural disconnect.”

“Let me be clear, a Black man, apparently in Black face [sic] is an entirely different discussion than a White person. However I did not state that the person was White. It was assumed that was my intent, and perhaps it was, but nonetheless, looking on his Facebook page (photos below), it seems at the very least he is in darker make-up [sic] if not ‘Black face’ [sic] or I am completely mistaken and it’s the lighting of the patio,” wrote Rhoden. “I apologize to [Hunter] for the implication, but the sentiment still stands, Black face [sic] by anyone, in this day and age is problematic. I also apologize to folks who reposted and made other statements based on my assumption. The other images, some of which are still on his FB page, are problematic and speak to the cultural disconnect of the parents at this school. Rather than acknowledge that, they chose to double down on being angry at me rather than trying to understand how one could have made this error. And yes, it was my error.”

Lassen emailed the Hopi Elementary PTA leader, Megan Livengood, with accusations of racism. After Livengood responded with the facts of Hunter’s race and a rebuke of Lassen’s conduct, Lassen replied with an apology.

The accusations reflected Lassen and Rhoden’s perspectives on SUSD parents.

Lassen complained in a promotional video for the drag queen story hour that parents have the amount of influence they do over the district’s activities. In another promotional video, Lassen said that her focus as a parent and educator concerned safe spaces and gender stereotypes.

“I think it is much harder at the school level, as far as the parents having a lot of say and clout with the school district, unfortunately,” said Lassen. “What it means to me as a parent is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for my child to develop their identity as a human, and to always be aware and counterbalance the gender stereotypes that we continually run into as a society. As a librarian, it means providing a safe space for LGBTQ individuals to gather, to learn, and to overall be a part of their community.” 

In a Facebook post, Lassen called parents upset about remote learning, “super rich, white ‘Karen’s’,” who she instructed to have “blow [her]” for having concerns about SUSD children’s mental and physical health. She added the explicit hashtag, “#F***MichelleUgentiRita” as an insult to the sitting state senator from Scottsdale.

“You don’t care about them until it’s convenient for you and you pretend to align yourselves with them because suddenly you have the same interests, but when all is said and done and your kids are back in school, you won’t think another thought about them or offer any kind of help or support to the districts or teachers,” wrote Lassen.

Rhoden offered similar sentiments about parents in an August 2020 Facebook post.

“I need a training on training myself to not get exasperated at parents who only care about themselves, who are selfish and who’s [sic] intentions are not socially just,” wrote Rhoden. “Sorry to put this so bluntly, but if another Karen/Becky or Ken ask [sic] one more question on a back to school Zoom call that is only germane to them, I’ma [sic] blow. We are all in this ish [sic] together. Be a team player!” 

Currently, there’s a petition calling for the resignation of Lassen and Rhoden. The petition documents the various offenses committed under the oversight of Lassen and Rhoden: promotion of a Drag Queen Story Hour, praise of Planned Parenthood founder and infamous eugenicist Margaret Sanger, and the unfounded blackface accusation made against Hunter.

“One of the organizations that parents have noticed as being problematic is the subcommittee of the Scottsdale Parent Council that is Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The name implies that kindness and compassion abound, but grievously, the opposite is true. The members of EDI consistently offend and confuse parents and community members with their controversial and divisive rhetoric.

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

Scottsdale Schools Plan For Unexpected Influx Of Afghan Refugee Students

Scottsdale Schools Plan For Unexpected Influx Of Afghan Refugee Students

By Terri Jo Neff |

Nearly 300 Afghan refugees are being relocated to a former hotel in Scottsdale after being housed at various military installations, resulting in the mobilization of a Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) team “to plan for providing educational services and support” to any school-aged refugees, according to Superintendent Scott Menzel.

SUSD “has an obligation to provide educational services to homeless students who reside within the district,” Menzel noted in a district newsletter. That obligation is based on compliance with the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

“While we did not anticipate this influx of new students, we are committed to marshalling the resources and supports necessary to ensure that these children are welcomed into our schools as they transition to their news lives in this country,” he wrote.  

The newsletter comments also referenced questions raised by some in the community about whether the district should be serving the refuge children. Instead of addressing public health, staffing, and security concerns, Menzel simply cited federal law as leaving the district no option.

Although Menzel’s comments were included in the recent newsletter, there has been nothing posted to SUSD’s Facebook page. In addition, district officials have not disclosed what conversations they have had with state and federal officials about compensation for the sudden influx of non-English speaking students.

More information is expected to be made public on Jan. 25 when the SUSD governing board meets.

Last August, Gov. Doug Ducey stated that Afghan refugees will be welcomed in Arizona. He noted that the Arizona Department of Economic Security, through its Arizona Office of Refugee Resettlement, would help secure housing, employment, and education for the refugees.

The refugees are being housed at the former Homewood Suites on North Scottsdale Road. The property is currently in bankruptcy but was approved by federal officials in early 2021 as a contracted temporary migrant transition facility.

There was no advance notice to Scottsdale city officials about the migrant arrangement last year. That contract expired at the year of 2021, but now the non-profit International Rescue Committee (IRC) is utilizing the massive hotel property for the next few months as temporary housing while efforts are undertaken to place each refuge or refugee family unit in homes with sponsors in the greater Phoenix area.  

Some refugees began arriving at the Homewood Suites before Jan. 14. According to Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther, “next to no one was aware” that the property was being repurposed.

Walther issued an advisory to Mayor David Ortega and council members before Menzel’s comments, noting there was no heads up to local authorities about the IRC’s plans to house unsupervised Afghan refugees within the city.

The IRC has now told city officials that the site is expected to use only through April. As far as security, IRC plans to hire security guards but made it clear that the refugees are free to come and go as they wish.

Security was not in place prior to the arrival of the first group of refugees, Walther noted. The refugees are expected to be gone from the hotel property by April, according to Walther.

“This is a federal government activity over which the city of Scottsdale has no oversight,” a city spokesperson recently told AZ Free News.

While Menzel was reticent about the situation, one of his school principal’s issued a detailed email to Cherokee Elementary staff.  He reported that more than 80 school-aged refugees are expected to be enrolled across three, possibly four, SUSD schools. 

Those students, according to Principal Walter Chantler, could speak one of four languages. And many of the youth, particularly the girls, have never been in school.

SUSD Denounces Critics of Club Sexualizing Children, Silent on ‘Deadname’ Policy

SUSD Denounces Critics of Club Sexualizing Children, Silent on ‘Deadname’ Policy

By Corinne Murdock |

On Thursday, Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel issued a statement calling criticism of a club that encourages child sexualization under the guise of offering support — Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) clubs — as “targeted attacks,” and suggested that those concerned were bullies to the students involved in the club.

“Recently, there have been targeted attacks on student-created school clubs related to gender and sexual identity, sometimes called GSA clubs. The students who choose to participate in them have a legal right not to be bullied, intimidated, or otherwise targeted by adult members of our community, as well as by any of their peers,” wrote Menzel.

Menzel also asserted that SUSD doesn’t regulate the viewpoints of student-initiated clubs. The superintendent said even GSA viewpoints are protected, comparing it to clubs focused on athletics, politics, and faith. As AZ Free News reported, the GSA at Cocopah Middle School was initiated by English teacher Laylee Langner. 

“Students’ rights to have differences of opinions, beliefs and interests are protected in the U.S. Constitution and in Arizona statute. Consistent with those rights, SUSD does not regulate the viewpoints of student-initiated clubs. We have athletic clubs, political clubs, and faith-based clubs in our schools, in addition to academic and philanthropic clubs. These clubs welcome anyone; participation in any club is voluntary.

Menzel has a doctorate and masters in philosophy. According to his LinkedIn, he received his bachelor’s degree in religion.

SUSD parent Jill Dunican denounced Menzel’s response. Dunican told AZ Free News that it demonstrated that the superintendent lacked character and was effectively gaslighting the SUSD community on the severity of GSA’s presence and impact.

“Dr. Menzel’s attempt to frame parents as bullies for speaking out about the hateful curriculum that he has allowed into Scottsdale schools is despicable. Menzel’s use of vulnerable children as a shield to distract from his support for the CRT-aligned GLSEN program that encourages race-baiting, cop-hating, and the sexualization of children is beyond the pale,” stated Dunican. “It’s disappointing that Dr. Menzel has decided to gaslight the community on this issue. It only speaks to his lack of character and further demonstrates he is not a good fit for our community.”

Earlier this week, AZ Free News reported on claims by GSA of the Year winners at Cocopah Middle School that they’d successfully strong-armed SUSD into changing ID policy: instead of bearing their legal names on their IDs, which the budding LGBTQ activists referred to as their “deadnames,” students were permitted to display their chosen name on their IDs. Neither SUSD spokespersons or any of the board members responded to multiple inquiries about the “deadname” policy.  

SUSD’s latest controversy comes in the midst of continued national exposure over the connection of their former governing board president, Jann-Michael Greenburg, to a secret dossier on parents and political enemies. Greenburg’s father created the Google Drive dossier, and Greenburg himself had editing access to it. 

At the beginning of this month, Scottsdale Police Department (SPD) determined that the case fell outside their jurisdiction because the dossier consisted of open source and/or public documents. SPD passed their investigative materials on to the FBI, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office for further review.

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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