Arizona School Board Allegedly Coordinated With Police to Intimidate Concerned Parents

An Arizona school board has reportedly coordinated with the Chandler Police Department to track and arrest concerned parents at school board meetings. The Daily Caller reports, emails acquired by the “Not in our Schools” blog showed that officials from the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) were in contact with Chandler Police Sergeant Greg Howarth in April and May as parents protested mask mandates in schools.

Howarth was instructed to gather information on parents opposed to the district’s mask requirements and teaching of Critical Race Theory.

CUSD’s Director of School Safety, Tanya Smith, told Howarth that one of the agenda issues for the board meeting on May 12 would be mask mandates. Smith explained that she was checking social media to see which parent organizations would be attending.

Smith asked, “If you hear anything specific, can you please let us know.?”

Howarth claimed to have access to the websites of the parent organizations and that he would be “monitoring all of them” and keep the district informed.

Smith told Howarth in a second email that CUSD governing board member Jason Olive was talking to a school board member from another district who had access to a parent group Facebook page. According to Olive, CUSD’s governing board meeting would be the next “target” of parent activists seeking to mask requirements in school.

Chandler police had launched an intelligence operation into parents, and on May 27, Lieutenant Jason Sieczkowski received an email from Howarth informing him of his investigation into various parent organizations. Howarth stated, “Here are some sites for you to pass along to the Intel Unit and Lt. Salazar, so whomever [sic] is coordinating and running this [operation] can continue to monitor and prepare for this one.”

Howarth singled out three groups:

  1. “Parents for Equity in Education”- a group of progressive parents who advocate for a curriculum based on critical race theory
  2. “Purple for Parents”- an organization, which fights for the elimination of Critical Race Theory-inspired curriculum
  3. “Patriot Party AZ”- a Republican political organization labeled as “the disruptors” by the officer. 

The information was concentrated on the Patriot party and its leader rather than on the legitimate parent groups fighting the mask regulations.

The “intel” also included links to the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate-watch” page along with links to stories accusing outspoken parents of being disruptive because they spoke out against their school board and refused to wear masks.

The first email sent was dated April 27. At that time, Howarth devised a meeting strategy for the CUSD board. He advised the governing board president to “cut the mic” of any parent who spoke without a mask.

Additionally, Howarth suggested arresting parents for trespassing if they refused to wear a mask. He said, “If someone doesn’t comply and you want them removed from the property, let us know. If they fail to leave, let us know that you want them trespassed, and we can do that.”

News of CUSD collaborating with CPD to intimidate and silence concerned parents comes after a group of Arizonans formed the Arizona Coalition of School Board Members as an alternative to the Arizona School Boards Association.

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