July 4, 2022

Arizona school district spied on parents protesting mask mandates, complete abuse of power

School board officials are supposed to serve the parents of their district. Instead, they’re looking to arrest them.

An Arizona school district sidled up with police to spy on parents who protested and arrest anyone unmasked at its meetings, the Daily Caller reported. Emails between the two entities revealed the scheme. 

Chandler Police Sergeant Greg Howarth and Chandler Unified School District’s Director of School Safety, Tanya Smith, exchanged emails in April and May as parents were beginning to protest mask mandates and curriculum that mirrored Critical Race Theory. These emails were obtained by “Not In Our Schools” activists’ blog.

Howarth was expected to gather intelligence on groups of parents speaking out about the mandates. Meanwhile, Smith was reportedly scouring social media while she told the sergeant “if you hear anything specific, can you please let us know.”

Sure enough, Howarth uncovered websites where the parents were exchanging information about the meetings and promised to “be monitoring all of them.” By May 27, his operations were in full swing.

“Here are some sites for you to pass along to the Intel Unit and Lt. Salazar, so whomever is coordinating and running this can continue to monitor and prepare for this one,” Howarth wrote to Lieutenant Jason Sieczkowski. Some of the groups outed as “disruptors” included anti-CRT group Purple for Parents, Parents for Equity in Education, and Patriot Party AZ.

Howarth also promised swift action against parents who were unmasked or unruly. “If someone doesn’t comply and you want them removed from the property let us know,” Howarth said. “If they fail to leave let us know that you want them trespassed and we can do that.”

Parents were incensed at the revelation of these exchanges. “At worst, these emails would seem to indicate that CPD suggested to CUSD officials that they be anticipating and selectively looking for any opportunity to silence, trespass, remove the anti-mask meeting participants, using CPD as the willing muscle to help CUSD remove we parents for non-legally-enforceable issues,” CUSD parent Jennifer Alvey said, calling it “pretty egregious for we community members to contemplate.”

Parents have a right to speak out at school board meetings, but officials are bent on silencing dissenting voices. These people do not own the school board, but rather work for the parents who elected them — and it’s time they remembered that.

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