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tv   Conservative Activism in Virginia School Boards  CSPAN  February 27, 2022 1:03pm-1:21pm EST

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>> united nations security council meets today. they will take up a measure compelling the general assembly to meet within 24 hours to debate and vote on whether russia violated the u.s. charter with its invasion of ukraine. the measure cannot be vetoed by any of the five permanent members including russia. watch live at 3:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, online at or full coverage on c-span now our free video app. [applause]
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>> please welcome jessica mendez, and your moderator, ian pryor. ♪ >> good morning, everyone, and welcome to cpac. i am ian pryor, i'm the
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executive director for fight for schools. this right here are three of the most instrumental people in the revolution you saw in 2021 in loudoun county, virginia. so let's give them a hand. [applause] there were already introduced as they came on stage, but this is michelle, this is a me, and this is jessica. i want to start with, really, the first question. when did you decide to get involved? what was your wake up moment you realized something was not right right in your school? let's start with you, jessica. >> for me it started in 2019, when my oldest was in first grade and i started hearing about inappropriate books in schools and i said, i've got to figure out what is going on here. i attended my first school board meeting and i remember listening to all of the speakers and hearing what they had to say and
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then they all left. and i stayed and listened to the meeting, and so -- until 1:00 in the morning and i said, wow, this is incredible. i have no idea. i was literally asleep at the wheel. from then on, you know, covid happened, and it started to be about reopening schools. schools were shut down in loudoun county, and i said, i have to do something. i have to speak up. and i went to my very first school board meeting and i was so nervous, like a.m. now, and i said, i've got to do something, i got to speak up. and then after that i started hearing more and more parents speaking up, and a lot of them had viral moments, like rendon, who said, figure it out and raise the bar, and chantel cooper, who said look at me,
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when she was talking about crt. we had these amazing parents come forward who had been motivated by others speaking up, and, you know, courage begets courage. and that is how it really started for me, i started realizing that i used to think that one minute school board meeting did not mean anything. they are not going to listen to me, it is not going to make a difference. but i had it all wrong. it was not the school board who needed to hear me, it was everyone sitting at home and across the country. those were the people that needed to hear me. [applause] mr. pryor: amy? >> in the same vein, loudoun county had been telling us these books are never going to make it to our kids' classrooms. he can check them out in the library. well, it came to my kids classroom. in an an assignment.
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i cannot believe the book choice she had. it was ninth grade honors english. these kids are home, they were virtual, they were reading these books. one in particular talked about graphic sexual abuse, rape, murder. i did not know what to do with it. i thought, these kids are sitting at home, some of them by themselves, they are high schoolers, this is honors. what are they going to learn from a book like this. so we had a facebook group we could share some of this information and i had seen ian's name being passed around as somebody to contact for this kind of stuff. so i pulled into a walgreens parking lot, called him, i said i don't know what to do. he said, right of this up for me. i said, i'm not sure about this guy, maybe he is just a journalist. so i pulled back, i didn't say anything, i thought, let me go through the school. school didn't do anything. then it just blew up.
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other people started finding out because i made a big post about it on facebook. everything i wrote that i tried to send to the school did not make it to the school because it was so graphic it did not get through the school's firewall. yet it is supposed to be in their hands. he calls when he goes, he didn't send me all that. i said, well, it is out there now. we did posters, all of the moms put it out there, and it really snowballed. for me i was like, wow, it is not just us. it is not just my kids class. it is texas, it is arizona, it is north carolina, and that is how i got involved, just being a mom, paying attention to what books they were reading. [applause] mr. pryor: michelle? >> i am a domestic terrorist. [laughter] [applause] because i recall school board
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members -- and i foia a heck of a lot. i started last fall when schools remain closed for months and months, and my children go to private school. and i cannot for the life of me figure out why -- why can the most richest county in the united states not figure out how to open the schools? that is when i got started, because if my children could have the opportunity to see their friends in person, every student in this county should have that same opportunity. so i started fall of 2020, i started going to school board meetings. he started to mobilize a little bit. then when ian started the recall process, that is when i really got started. i went door-to-door. i was determined to get the most signatures of all of my friends. >> and you did. [laughter] >> she did. >> i think one journalist told me i foia'ed 20% of all
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requests for the county. they changed their policies because of me. i now have to pay in advance, which i'm going to take that up on another day. today is not that day. keeping the schools closed, i agreed to a two-week previous because of covid. he did not have the right metrics. i did not agree to stop life as we know it. the opportunities for our children were not there and we are now seeing the effects of that, long term. and that is what breaks my heart. and i will keep fighting every day if i have to until we make this right. [applause] mr. pryor: you know, one of the things that i have learned throughout this process is the way this can transition to jan loudoun county is to keep it within these four lanes or think about these four things, which
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is activated, investigate, communicate, and litigate. michelle talked about the investigation peace. she has done such a great job with freedom of information act requests, but as some of you may have seen in loudoun county there was a sexual assault that our superintendent lied about at a school board meeting for political reasons. and michelle actually foia'ed for a four month period, and they said we will give you this for $37,000. so one of the things that america first legal is working on is the ppra, which is a way to get access to curriculum teacher trainings under federal law, and it is not governed by foia. so you can actually request to the school to go in there and review your child's curriculum. their lesson plans. the teacher trainings that the teacher has.
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and they cannot charge you and they cannot deny you those rights under federal law. [applause] i want to get to, you know, another question for you. loudoun county is obviously in the news as the forefront of this parent's revolution, you know, the lexington and concord of the parents revolution. at what point did you realize what was happening in loudoun county was much bigger than loudoun county? jessica? >> there are a lot of them. i feel like i was constantly reminded when i needed it, you know, when i needed a little boost of, keep fighting, keep doing this. i remember you telling me about an article you had read saying that a woman in wisconsin was asked, why are you trying to remove your school board members? her answer was, loudoun county. i know, right? i was blown away. i was blown away that a woman in wisconsin new about us, our county, what we are trying to
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do. just family and friends reaching out from across the country and thanking us led to strangers coming up to me and saying, thank you for what you are doing. i know what you are doing, so keep doing it. it was so incredible and motivating. we had some huge wins. we had our first school board member in court we won all three motions, and she resigned shortly thereafter. [applause] sorry. >> as ian was saying about the sexual assault at that school in our county, i have three students at the school. so, i knew on june 22 how big this was. here i am fighting those books, trying to get more appropriate materials, and there was someone raping a girl in my kids'
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bathroom at school? i have two teenage daughters there. and when that father at that june 22 meeting that blew up and they did not want to hear from parents anymore, our school board walked off the stage, parents are furious. a fight happened to break out with the father who is the father of that daughter at that meeting. and when they walked off that stage i said, oh, hell no. i got up on my chair and started singing the national anthem. if there was anything that could unify someone in that room it was going to be that song, and i ended up on laura ingraham later that night. >> then you check to get arrested too. >> i wanted to get arrested because i was not going to leave the room. and she may believe. that is when i knew this was big. if it is -- if you have books happening and it is happening at night kids school, and i know
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those books are happening at your kids at school, now i have sexual assault at my school, it is happening at your school, you just do not know about it. uncover it. i will not stop until this is done. [applause] >> for me, over the summer i was very much head down and collecting signatures. when the time came for ian to do the press release and return those petitions in, and i think it was that they or the next day dan bocchino was crying and thinking, i was very touched. because where else? you don't understand the impact you have personally or as a team. we are a very tight team until you see the reactions of those, and even today when amy and i were getting coffee we were like, oh, you are from loudoun. thank you. if what you are doing. -- thank you for what you are doing.
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[applause] mr. pryor: i would say the moment throughout the summer certainly we were on the news and the things happening at the school board were on the news. but there was really a few things at the end of september, early october, when i realized what was happening. the first was when, you know, terry mcauliffe in the debate said, i do not think parents should be telling schools what to teach. at that point that was what he had done, but apparently the powers that be in washington decided, we have to make up for this, so you get the national school board association letter that actually cited the dad that was arrested at the school board meeting. the same dad whose daughter was actually assaulted in the bathroom. and in a short span of three days attorney general merrick garland turned around a memo regarding looking at parents at school board meetings under domestic terrorism statute. that is no coincidence. attorney general memos do not
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get drafted and publicized that quickly. so i realized that, wow, the establishment is scared. and they see what is happening and the power structure has a very real risk of collapsing if you build a coalition of parents across partisanship that is focused on one issue, and that is their children, the health, welfare, and education of their children. i think we are looking at a moment where we have the potential to build the biggest block of single-issue voters in the history of american politics. [applause] so, what would you give as a message to everybody on how they can do some of the things that we have done in their own counties, in their own districts, in their own cities? but you gotta organize.
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you have to start communicating with each other. you have to work together for your common goal. and figure out what is going on. help to uncover things. there is foia. speak at school board meetings. make your voices heard, but work together doing it. it has been incredible to see the team come together and everybody, every parent has their own special set of skills. especially ian prior -- pryor. but we each have something valuable and when you put them together and work together you can make things happen. >> my biggest message would be, don't give up. there were a lot of times i wanted to give up. we were times my kids were saying, please don't embarrass us again at a school board meeting. please don't go on tv, gender not listen to them. for there is a view in the i.t. world, we have something called
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when teams come together. we were just a bunch of individual moms, and ian, it is a process by which teams come together, it is called forming, storming, norming, and performing. we are performing. you have to get the performing. he may be and a lot of storming phases, going back and forth, but you have to get to performing. >> and i am awake. i am not woke, and you can be too. if anyone needs support on foias, the tactical steps are simple. who are you trying to foia, and usually the first one or two things that come up is a >> we take you live to orlando florida for day four of the conservative political action conference


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