How Colorado parents were threatened, ignored, and deceived by school officials after exposing hardcore pornography available via middle school’s Internet portal
School officials admit that x-rated pornography is there but refuse to remove it.
A nightmare for the parents. Here's what they've been going through.
January 19 2017
You are about to get a frightening lesson on the mindset of today’s school officials.
In our previous post MassResistance documented the sickening pornography (much of it involving sexual violence) that school officials have made available to middle school students in the Cherry Creek School District in suburban Denver, CO.
The parents who discovered it and brought it to the school’s attention (starting in September 2016) were at first ignored, and later faced a nightmare of hostility, deception, and even threats from school officials.
Schools not liable under most pornography laws
In any other era, most if not all of these officials and School Board members would likely be arrested and jailed – and certainly lose their jobs. Many adults have told us they are sickened by seeing this material.
But unfortunately, Colorado and 44 other states have passed laws exempting schools from criminal liability for exposing minors to obscene materials. A few years ago, MassResistance filed a bill in the Massachusetts Legislature to repeal that exemption, but it was opposed by the education establishment and died in committee.
As we described, parents from the Fox Ridge Middle School happened to see the obscene materials by logging into the school’s student Internet portal, using the child’s password. (The material was not available using the parents’ password.)
At first: Ignored, told not to talk about it, and threatened
One would imagine that a public school official would be shocked to learn about and be shown screenshots of this material, and want to get to the bottom of it immediately. That’s what the parents expected. But that’s the opposite of what happened. The schools apparently didn’t want this material to be known by anyone or interfered with.
The parents initially reported it to the Director of Middle School Education, John Kennedy on Sept. 12, 2016. They got no response. So they sent emails to several teachers and the school librarian advising them of the obscene material, including a few screen shots, and asked them if they knew how to remove it.
They also called the nearby high school, Cherokee Trail High School. They asked to meet with the principal about the obscene material which they could see was also available to high school students. But the parents still got no replies.
Then, a few days later, they got a response – and a threat. As the father told us:
John Kennedy phoned our home. He told us not to talk about this. He told us, “Do not contact anyone else. You’re contacting people that have nothing to do with this. And we’re looking into it so you need to stop contacting anyone.” Then he threatened us, saying, “If you keep contacting people something’s going to happen to you that neither one of us is going to like.” John Kennedy has apparently now denies this, but we had the conversation and I know what he said.
Also, nothing got changed or removed from the site. The parents weren’t giving up and the school officials continud their hostility.
The parents were informed that the high school principal would not meet with them, and her staff was hostile when they tried to contact her again. (Later, the principal admitted to the parents that she had been instructed by District officials not to talk to them.) Instead, the parents were told to address their concerns to the Executive Director of High Schools, Sarah Grobbel.
So the parents wrote a detailed letter to Sarah Grobbel and copied Superintendent Harry Bull, the entire School Board, and the district’s chief media specialist. They described the obscene content and included several screen shots.
A bizarre reply from the school
Two days later, the parents received a letter signed by Grobbel, John Kennedy, the Chief Information Officer, and the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Operations. The letter can only be described as a condescending mish-mash of bureaucrat-speak that basically blames the parents for the problem.
In the letter, the school officials did not deny that the pornography is available in the middle school students’ Internet portal. But it gives an alarming window into the mindset of these people who are teaching middle school children.
The officials basically defend the situation by saying:
1. The parents are negligent because they do not have a strong enough Internet filter on their home computer and their child’s computer (or cell phone). Of course, it doesn’t answer the question: Why is the material in the middle school Internet portal in the first place?
2. They admit that the parents’ password doesn’t give access to the pornography even though the children’s password does give access to it. They say this is because the school only pays licensing fees for student access.
3. They make the bizarre implication that most families may not have a problem with hardcore pornography, and they can’t cater to just the parents who’ve complained. They say: “While you are best suited to set and monitor the values you hold for your student, we hope you can respect that public school systems cannot build learning experiences based on the preferences of one specific family.”
4. They say that they’ve already blocked some of the links. These are links that in their view “appear to cross a line with regard to adult sexual content.” And they say they are “working to remove access to a category targeted at adults.” This was a lie. The parents continued to find that all of the links were still there.
5. They imply that that this pornography isn’t necessarily bad enough to be removed and in fact may be useful. They say: “[W]e make a collaborative decision if we block content. We do not block content simply because it might be controversial. [Our school policy] supports the thoughtful use of controversial materials for learning. We believe that guided analysis of a variety of points of view is critical to an excellent k-12 education.” This is lunacy.
6. They disagree with the parents’ concern o the homosexual-related pornography. They say: “While we are well aware that you have concerns with discussions and content related to LGBTQ issues, we have a compelling interest in providing a safe and supportive learning environment for all students.” Of course, they don’t explain how homosexual pornography can possibly provide a “safe and supportive learning environment.”
7. They claim that most kids won’t look at the pornography that’s on the middle school site – and the school will punish those who do. “We believe that the vast majority of our students use resources for their intended purpose and understand that misuse can result in a loss of privilege. We do not see that navigation as inappropriate for middle school students.”
The statements and reasoning in this letter are offensive and bizarre. Unfortunately, this attitude and mindset is pervasive throughout today’s education establishment.
Parents go to School Board meeting – intimidation continues
After receiving the letter, the parents went to the next School Board meeting, on October 10, 2016. They publicly testified about the obscene material and passed out screenshots to the Board members and the Superintendent. The officials did not react.
However, out in the hallway during the meeting, an upsetting interaction took place. As one of the parents described it:
I was having a private conversation with the President of the Teachers Association. Associate Superintendent Scott Siegfried approached us in an intrusive way. He stood and listened to our conversation in an intimidating manner and made it clear that the Teachers Association President was to stop speaking with me, which she did.
But she had told us, before Siegfried interrupted us, that two Cherry Creek teachers had approached her with concerns about being disciplined following their having raised concerns about obscene material.
After the meeting, Siegfried again approached the parents. This time he apologized for his failure to “listen” to their concerns and assured them he would provide assistance moving forward.
So the next day they sent Siegfried detailed examples of obscene material on the middle school site. Over the next few days the school did remove a few of the links. But the vast majority of the hardcore pornographic content was still there, and the parents continued to find even more.
The following week the parents notified Siegfried of the numerous other examples of obscene and pornographic material. But he seemed uninterested and did not remove any of it. Also, when the parents asked Siegfried to tell them the names of the staff members who had put these links in, he stated, “I will never tell you that.”
School Board Chairman refuses to meet with them
The Chairman of the School Board, Randy Perlis, is also the Board member representing the parents’ district. After several requests to meet with him, they were told that “it is outside protocol for a Board member to meet with a constituent.” Perlis also declined to talk with them on the phone or answer emails.
A very disturbing conversation with a School Board member
The parents obtained the personal phone number of another Board member, Karen Fisher. She would not meet with them, but on October 20 agreed to talk to two of the parents on the phone about this issue.
It was a very disturbing conversation. One of the parents, a professional researcher, documented the conversation here.
At the beginning of the call the parents reviewed the problem with sexual material and pornography readily available to the middle students through their student accounts. They said they now had even more downloaded material than they had already given to the Board members. Moreover, they now have screenshots of actual assignments for 9th graders requiring them to access some of the databases that contain links to the pornography.
Fisher was very silent and seemed to lack any interest in this. But during the conversation she made several points to the parents:
1. She said that there’s not anything she can do about it. When the parents insisted that elected officials have the power to oversee the schools, she said she disagreed, and that it’s already being taken care of by school administrators. When the parents reminded her that the school district’s official policy states that the School Board has ultimate responsibility over media, she seemed unimpressed and uninterested.
2. She indicated that the school administrators had made the decision to leave the existing sexual material on the high school websites, and that she supported that decision. They would review all new material. (Some material was being taken off of the middle school websites, though most was left on.)
3. The parents asked her if she thought there was educational value to this kind of hardcore pornography in a public school. (The parents specifically asked her about the value of “the pocket pussy, the strap-on dildo, and the anal sex videos.”) She said she was very comfortable deferring to the experts in this regard. She said that she was not an expert in education and had no opinion regarding the use of pornography as an educational tool.
4. She said that no other parents had complained about this to her. But then she admitted that she had just now located one complaint in her inbox, and that the main School Board email inbox is so overwhelmed that many things don’t get forwarded to her. She said she “wasn’t sure” if she had read the emails that the parents had recently sent to the Board members about this issue.
5. She reiterated that the School Board would not meet with parents to discuss this because meeting with citizens is “outside normal policy.” Instead, they could have their 3 minutes to testify during Board meetings.
Wow! This woman is an elected School Board member with several children of her own in the school system. Nevertheless, we see this with School Board members across the country. Even though she appears to be a normal “member of the community,” her own belief system seems truly radical compared of the average parent’s. Unfortunately, these are the kinds of people who run for School Boards and get the support of the powerful special interests at election time.
Local (and national) media igniting on this
Since MassResistance posted this outrageous story, local Denver talk radio and some national conservative media outlets contacted us and also began reporting on it. One of the first was Denver radio talk show host Steve Curtis of Radio station KLZ: AM 560 / 100.7 FM did a powerful segment during drive time on Tuesday. Listen to it here. Also, WND, Family Research Council, and others have covered this story.
COMING UP NEXT: Where does this pornography come from? The companies that supply it to school systems across the country.