My Challenge to the St. Louis Park School Board and Administrators

by | Nov 17, 2022 | Schools | 0 comments

On October 6, 2022, I met with my daughter’s teacher for a “parent connect” meeting. In addition to talking about her academic progress, I asked the teacher about what kind of “woke” assignments I could expect. It was a challenging conversation.

On my way out, I fortuitously ran into the social worker in the hall, who I’d previously had long and intense discussions with. She said, “Come on into my office. Let’s talk.” A few minutes into the conversation, the principal, who I’d also had long and intense discussions with, fortuitously walked in.

The 2.5 hours I spent in that building that day were meant to be.

Below is an email, based on these interactions, that I sent to the St. Louis Park, MN school district, including the superintendent, school board, principal, social worker, and teacher. My attorney and the two lead attorneys at Upper Midwest Law Center were copied.

Since then, I’ve started to read Rebecca Friedrichs’ tell-all, Standing Up to Goliath: Battling State and National Teachers’ Unions for the Heart and Soul of Our Kids and Country. I can only handle so much before I have to put it down. What she exposes is that bad.

Rebecca is also the producer of the groundbreaking documentary, Whose Children Are They? Exposing the Hidden Agendas in America’s Schools. This film is for mature audiences only.

I had the honor of meeting her a few weeks ago.

I welcome any parent who’s concerned about what’s going on in their child’s school to use or adapt any of this, especially the numbered list at the end.

* * *

Hello,

I want to follow up on the meetings from last week. Thank you for the time you spent talking with me.

I know that no one likes my delivery. That’s okay with me. Some have a very difficult time handling the truth and being called out on “woke” indoctrination of children and violation of parental rights.

As I told [the principal] and [the social worker], if anyone messes with my child, my claws come out. My only regret is that I’ve used a few choice swear words, which is entirely inappropriate. It’s not okay and it shows how thin the veil is for me on all of this.

I’ll start with the fact that I appreciate that [my daughter’s teacher] doesn’t have a room plastered with “woke” indoctrination on the walls, unlike the hallways at Peter Hobart and [my daughter’s] classroom last year. I was very encouraged by this at orientation, knowing that she’s a teacher in the St. Louis Park district and by definition, would be mandated to teach at least some DEI/sexuality propaganda. At least it’s not in the kids’ faces with posters that they have to look at all day.

That said, she was dishonest with me about how she’d spoken with “all the parents” about the upcoming “racial autobiography” assignment and they were fine with it. I said, “Really, you’ve talked with all the parents?” She said yes and that I’m the only one who objected. I knew immediately that this wasn’t true and it’s corroborated here. I simply didn’t believe that she told all the parents about it, especially when the SLP district has a horrific track record of sliding “assignments” like this under the radar, only for parents to find out after the fact.

Additionally, she agreed that she didn’t like the title of the assignment. When I asked her whether she thinks it’s a good idea, she paused and said, “Yes.” This is a blatant contradiction, in addition to the fact that she was dishonest with me about “all the parents” approving. So my trust has been destroyed right out of the chute.

The situation with [her teacher] isn’t the first time one of [my daughter’s] teachers has been dishonest. You know that she had major trauma last year from being indoctrinated to believe that, based on a wholly inappropriate book that [her prior teacher] was reading to the classroom, “the police don’t like black people” and she hid under the covers, saying that she never wanted to leave the house again because she’d be shot in the back. This is horrific, inappropriate, and abusive indoctrination and traumatization of a young child.

After a long conversation I had with [the social worker], I guess she spoke with [her prior teacher], who said something about the book being associated with a movie the kids watched. I have no idea what this means because firstly, it doesn’t address [my daughter’s] trauma. Also, the reading of the book and the movie day (that I also strongly objected to, as kids should not be watching Disney movies at school) had nothing to do with each other. Additionally, these events were many weeks apart. [Social worker], if you want to clarify any of this, I’d be open to hearing it.

I told [my daughter’s teacher] that I’m sure my reputation precedes me, based on conversations with [the principal, the social worker, and the superintendent] from last year, and briefed her on our family situation, in that I’ve been court-ordered to have [my daughter] at Peter Hobart, very much against my will, and that if anything changed and things went in my favor, I’d pull her on day one.

She later accused me of yelling at her, but I never raised my voice. Shortly after, related to expressing my grave concerns about what’s happening in the public schools, she said, “Well, you knew what you were getting into. This is St. Louis Park. There are other school districts.” Clearly, she was insensitive to my situation by not hearing me that [my daughter] is there against my will.

[My daughter] will not be participating in this inappropriate “racial autobiography” assignment. I’ve spoken with her about it and her dad agrees that she’s going to simply write an autobiography. She will not go to the media center during the assignment, as this would shine a spotlight on her and likely get her questions from friends, which would put her in an awkward situation.

[My daughter] knows what’s up and knows what to look for. Before I said anything about my disagreement about this assignment, she furrowed her brow and said, “Why does it have to be about race? Why can’t I just write an autobiography?” I said, “Exactly.”

Before I go further, I wholeheartedly reject [the social worker’s] notion that I’m “overprotective” and that I need to “let some things go.” No. No one is going to paint me into a corner and no one is going to convince me that I’m over-reactive. I’m sure you’d love for me to go away, but I’ll tell you…there are a lot of parents who feel the same way I do, they’re just too afraid to stick their neck out about politics and activism in education and controversial and divisive content in the classroom. They’re cheering me on from the sidelines, afraid to step up and speak out for their children.

If schools keep pushing for these political agendas, I have no doubt that more and more parents will be speaking against these violations of their rights.

We’ve always told [our daughter] that our goal as parents is to raise her to be the fullest expression of herself and that we’d guide her and parent her well, but that we want to see her blossom and grow in the way that God intends for her life.

To that end, I reject [the social worker’s] statement, “Don’t worry, Jill, I got her, I got her.” And I reject [her teacher’s] statement that “I feel like these are my kids.” My child isn’t yours to have.

Last year, I shared the documentary, Whose Children Are They? with [the principal and social worker]. [Principal and social worker], I’d love your feedback on the film. This should be mandatory viewing for every parent and every teacher or administrator in any school district.

I very much appreciate my conversations with [the social worker]. Unlike many, she’s direct and uncowardly. We had two long conversations last year where, after I expressed multiple concerns, she stated repeatedly, “I’m with you 100%. I agree with you. I’m with you 100%.” She said that I’m a wonderful and attentive parent and that it’s clear that [my daughter] is well-parented. I asked, “If you’re with me on all of this, then why are you there?” She said, “Because if I leave, I’m on the outside. If I stay, I can make changes from the inside.”

[Social worker], I’d like to know what changes you’re making because when we talked last week, with all due respect, you were highly defended about what the school and district are doing. Maybe it’s because [the principal] was in the room. Had she not been there, I suspect we’d have had a different conversation.

Additionally, I’d like to have a follow-up conversation with you about “cultural competency.” As we discussed last week, parents can’t provide this for their children because we don’t have the lived experience of other cultures, which is true. Your suggestion was to let it happen at school, but I’d like to know how educators who don’t have the lived experience of the culture they’re trying to make the children competent in plan to do this. In other words, they’re going to be just as challenged as parents.

I initially emailed [the principal] on Sept. 7 of 2021. No response. There were a few other emails, including one asking why she doesn’t reply to my emails. No response. When I told [the social worker] about this, she said, “Yeah, that’s not okay. She should be replying to you. I’ll talk with her.”

[The principal] did call me after the two situations last spring, which I appreciated. She took a lot of time to hear me. Last week, when I asked her why she never replies to my emails, she said, “I replied to you by calling you,” which is insulting because the time between the initial email and the first phone call was six months. [Principal], as a taxpayer and a parent of a child at your school, you are required to respond to me.

I very much appreciate that you have the courage to keep boys’ and girls’ bathrooms separate. All isn’t lost.

Before I get into my list below, I’ll say that the district, including Peter Hobart specifically, has no business cramming DEI, CRT, racial equity, SEL, and gender/nonbinary ideology down kids’ throats with report cards like the attached (district report card, school report card).

These are shameful academic achievement statistics. And you can’t blame it on Covid because 2018 and 2019 were nothing to be proud of. [The principal] seemed totally uninterested when I shared these documents with her last week.

[Update for this blog post: here is the 10-year history]

Where is the focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic? There’s an unhealthy and preposterous obsession with “racial equity” (blatant racism) and other indoctrination at the expense of academic achievement. I want to know what’s being done to address these plummeting academic standards. Please tell me.

I will be following up with official, signed documentation around some of the things you see below.

1. In Minnesota, by law, parents have a say in what their child is exposed to at school. See statute 120b.20. Additionally, in creating the Department of Education, Congress stated the following regarding the federal role in education: “Parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children, and States, localities, and private institutions have the primary responsibility for supporting that parental role.”

To that end, [my daughter] will not be participating in any “woke”/equity propaganda that further highlights our differences (aka blatant racism). She will not be made to feel “oppressed” by “white oppressors.”

I know that “equity” (which is based on outcomes, not opportunity...huge difference) is baked into everything the district does, ad nauseam. But she will not be taking part in any assignment like the “racial autobiography.” She knows what to look for and again, agrees it’s inappropriate. She will not be whisked away to the media center for any of these assignments.

[Principal, teacher, and social worker] all agreed to notify me of these types of assignments. 

These should include:

  • Racism and equity-based practices and approaches
  • Social justice
  • Pronoun usage
  • Sexual preferences and behaviors, including LGBTQ-related topics
  • Gender fluidity and transgenderism/gender identity other than biological male/female
  • Political commentary or advocacy, including anything related to BLM or “pride” (Given that there are BLM posters in the elementary, middle, and high schools in the SLP district, I’d love your feedback on this film.)
  • Teaching history using editorialized viewpoints vs. fact-based curriculum
  • Symbols or signage other than the American flag that convey advocacy, ideology, or political support

The racist “equity” indoctrination and division is bad enough. But how we ever got to a place of talking about sexuality with elementary school children truly makes my stomach turn. How could any of you possibly think this is acceptable?

Additionally, when schools engage in indoctrination of children about gender ideology, they’re pushing for a belief, not a scientifically proven fact or theory. In doing so, they’re infringing on parents’ right to instruct children about religion. The school is then violating the 1st amendment rights of parents by imposing its own belief system on children, without parental consent. Rest assured, this is gaining traction and people are starting to understand the meaning of this and push back.

According to Upper Midwest Law Center, one of my partners for Good Trouble Parents, “Under Chapter 13 of Minnesota Statutes, the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act gives everyone the right to inspect and obtain copies of public data. Public data include all the data a school district keeps unless there is a state or federal law (including parts of Chapter 13) that classifies the data in some other way. Requests for public data can include emails, letters, messages, literature and curriculum materials, school policies, and other media or communication from or through political/advocacy groups, to name a few.”

As for Good Trouble Parents, it has caught on quickly. I was interviewed by an Alpha News reporter, after which a radio station did a 30-min. segment on my story. My email blew up with massive support both locally and nationally. I was then interviewed by the Associated Press and that story should be out soon. I’ll be sure to send it to you.

2. [My daughter] will not be participating in any surveys (aka data mining) under the guise of SEL. We are covered by the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.

She will not be subjected to leading and biased questions about familial beliefs, behaviors and attitudes, sexuality, gender ideology, pronouns, spirituality, religious affiliation, world views, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status where the data is then interpreted through an “equity lens” of systemic racism and oppression that produces biased results and continues to indoctrinate students and further radicalize school culture based on those biased results. I know that these surveys are a way to collect “mental health” data on children that then allows schools to evaluate the kids. I know that this data is stored and used to create “psychological profiles” for each student and that the data is monitored and continuously updated, creating a permanent profile for each student. Not happening.

3. [My daughter] will not be subjected to nasal testing or any other medical testing at any school in the district.

4. [My daughter] will not receive any vaccine or mRNA shot (the Covid shot isn’t a vaccine) at any school in the district.

5. [My daughter] will not be required to use her pronouns. She is a girl. She knows she’s a girl…she’s not confused about it. Don’t ask her what her “preferred pronouns” are. Additionally, she will not be required to use “they/them” pronouns when referring to others and won’t be punished for “sexual harassment” for “misgendering” someone or referring to them “incorrectly.”

You all have an important role and I do appreciate all of you. I know that your jobs aren’t easy. And as I told [her teacher], you’re all victims of the system to varying degrees. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing the right thing, setting your own agendas aside, and focusing on what matters.

I’m not asleep at the switch. And I look forward to having a productive and educational remainder of the year, without the propagandization and indoctrination of our children and blatant violation of parental rights. I’m sure that at least a few follow-up conversations will ensue. The shared goal of [my daughter’s] dad and me is to have her grow up to be the fullest expression of herself in addition to reaching her full academic potential.

And as I told [the superintendent], my concerns aren’t just about my child, they’re about all children, as these kids are going to grow up together. They’re the future of this country. And the divisiveness and racism that’s being fomented in the schools is going to affect them forever.

Jill McLaughlin Grunewald