Three parents who lost a recent school board election have filed a federal lawsuit against an affluent southern Connecticut school district. The lawsuit alleges that the district and its staffers discriminated against the parents and their children for speaking against the district’s lessons about “systemic racism.”
The parents, Danielle Scarpellino, Tim Chamberlain, and William Maisano, have retained high-profile Connecticut attorney Norm Pattis to press the case in federal court against the Guilford Board of Education and several school employees and officials.
Guilford, Connecticut, is a few minutes by highway east of New Haven.
The complaint names the aforementioned parents as plaintiffs and as personal representatives of their respective children, who are named only as John Does and Jane Does bearing their parents’ last names.
The lawsuit alleges six causes of action: (1) retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, (2) compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment, (3) religious discrimination in violation of the First Amendment, (4) discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, (5) common-law negligence, and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The opening missive in the 28-page complaint reads accordingly:
The Guilford Board of Education has adopted a policy and practice of discriminating against, and bullying, the children of parents who have taken a public and principled stand against the board’s adoption of a species of pedagogy that teaches children the best way to combat so-called “systemic racism” is to engage in a different form of systematic racial discrimination. The parent plaintiffs have objected to this pedagogy as little more than race pandering; the board, its agents and employees have determined to ostracize, to bully and to harass the plaintiff children of those parents. This action seeks redress for damages suffered as a result of the defendants’ concerted effort to punish the children of critics of the board, and to compel conformity with a divisive ideology. The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, and, as to individually named plaintiffs, punitive damages; it also seeks an award of attorney’s fees. The parents bring this action to assure the promise of equal justice for all, white, black and otherwise.
The lawsuit elsewhere describes the school’s curriculum as one which embodies a “radical, racist agenda.”
Among the grievances listed in the complaint are a June 2020 decision by School Superintendent Paul Freeman to jettison the district’s use of an “American Indian as school mascot.”
The lawsuit alleges that the school decided to mold its curriculum to confirm with the ideas promulgated by Ibram X. Kendi’s 2019 book “How to Be an Antiracist,” which the lawsuit quotes as saying:
The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.
The upshot, according to the lawsuit, was to “insert this new racial agenda into the curriculum of schools throughout the town.” Or, in other words, the lawsuit says that “the curriculum would at all grade levels would focus on racial grievances” and would seek to “indoctrinate” faculty to behave in the manner outlined in the book.
The lawsuit then calls the district’s curriculum a “racialist agenda” and a “radical political doctrine that is inherently racist.”
The plaintiffs indicate that they played leadership roles in a 300-member group called “No Left Turn in Education — Guilford,” or “NLTE” for short.
As part of their activism, the lawsuit notes that several of the plaintiffs ran for school board and even attracted attention on the Fox News Channel program “Fox & Friends.” The candidates-turned-litigants won the Republican primary but lost the general election, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit alleges that one of the named plaintiffs’ children became a target because of “[h]is background as a white, male, Christian student.” The alleged targeting, according to the lawsuit, included the school’s “manufacturing” of “reasons to discipline” the student; the incidents allegedly included 21 separate complaints that the student’s “COVID mask momentarily slipped below his nose.”
Other students bullied and physically provoked the student in question, but staffers and administrators did not take appropriate action, the lawsuit alleges.
After listing a litany of disputes between the family and the school, the lawsuit says the school district deemed the student a “dominate narrative” on internal paperwork — or, in other words, someone who was “deemed culturally destructive” to the school’s chosen culture.
The student “fit into this category because he is white, Italian male, straight, and from a traditional Catholic family that holds conservative political beliefs,” the lawsuit alleges.
Other incidents of alleged bullying, intimidation, and racial name-calling are said to have involved the children of the other plaintiffs.
One section of the lawsuit is illustrative of the complaints:
Maisano’s son, John Doe Maisano . . . has repeatedly been labelled “Whitey” and “White Boy” in front of teacher’s aides and other of the Defendants staff. He has been labelled a racist and threatened with beatings from his classmates in front of the Defendants’ staff who have taken no steps to intervene at all.
Additionally, in a separate classroom incident during John Doe Maisano’s Latin class, the teacher left the room, and girls in the class streamed a live pornographic video of a man masturbating into the class. The girls then began to interact with the performer in a lewd and lascivious manner. When John Doe Maisano refused to join the entire class’s viewing of the video because of his Christian beliefs, the students forced him to retreat to a corner where they surrounded him and accused him of being gay. When John Doe Maisano stated that his Christian and personal beliefs did not give him any sexual attraction toward men, the entire class accused him of being homophobic.
When the teacher returned and sensed something was wrong, she spoke to the student privately and learned the entire incident. Upon information and belief, the Defendants took no disciplinary action or any steps to protect John Doe Maisano son from a repeat of the incident, dismissing Maisano and his son’s concerns as being part of their intolerance for others.
The complaint says the daughter of another plaintiff espoused her views about global warming as part of a speech and debate assignment for a language arts class. After so doing, her science teacher told her that she had “drank the Fox News Kool-Aid,” the lawsuit alleges.
Freeman, the superintendent, told the New Haven Register that the district was “aware of and reviewing the complaint” but declined further comment until next week, the newspaper said.
Guilford First Selectman Matthew Hoey, whose name appears in the lawsuit but who is not a directly named defendant, reportedly commented by “express[ing] support for the superintendent and school district,” the newspaper added.
Hoey said the school’s “[e]quity and social justice initiatives” were not the same as “what some people were calling the teaching of critical race theory back in 2021, and I think there’s been some continued accusations of that.”
He indicated, per the newspaper, that school officials and the local teacher’s union “have all stated unequivocally that we are not teaching critical race theory in the Guilford Public Schools.” He reportedly added that diversity and social justice matters “are all concepts that can be found in the Bible.”
Pattis, the lead attorney on the case, is known recently for representing Infowars host Alex Jones in a separate Connecticut case. Jones is being sued in the Constitution State for claiming the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, was a “hoax.” Jones has since retracted those comments, but the litigation remains ongoing; Jones is set to go on trial in Connecticut on Tues., Sept. 13.
Jones is not a party to the lawsuit by Scarpellino, Chamberlain, and Maisano against the Guilford school district, and his name appears nowhere in it.
However, Pattis filed the Guilford case amid an ongoing ethics probe in connection with his alleged handling of confidential material in the Jones case. Recently, an attorney who represents Pattis in that ethics probe said Pattis fears a potential criminal prosecution connected to the Jones case material. Pattis accordingly asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in that probe.
Pattis also recently represented accused Connecticut wife killer Fotis Dulos. Dulos died by suicide before his case went to trial.
A copy of the complaint against the Guilford school board and several school employees is embedded below:
(Images of the plaintiffs via YouTube/League of Women Voters screengrabs.)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]