Liberal members of a school board are threatening to sue a mother of two for merely wanted access to public information.
Nicole Solas, 37, was shocked when she found out her name was listed on the agenda of a local school board meeting as they considered to take legal action against her.
Several months ago, the Rhode Island mom began filing records requests with the South Kingstown School District after she discovered teachers were adding critical race theory lessons into the curriculum.
“I was shocked,” Solas, 37, told The Daily Signal in a recent phone interview. The school board, she said, “did not tell me that [the requests were] a problem.”
The South Kingstown School District is considering “[f]iling lawsuit against Nicole Solas to challenge filing of over 160 APRA requests.”
Emily Cummiskey, board chairwoman complained that Solas’ requests would take up too much time.
“More than 200 APRA requests have been filed by a single individual in just the last few weeks alone,” Cummiskey said complaining the requests would take “more than 300 hours of our district’s time.”
Solas began to question what was being taught after she discovered teachers were using gender neutral terms. She called the principal, asked some questions, and took a tour of the school. The principal told her that it is “common practice” for teachers to now use gender-neutral terminology.
After receiving a list of questions from Solas about the elementary schools curriculum and practices she was directed by the principle to submit a request for public records.
“They would respond either with an estimate, [or] sometimes they would give me documents for free,” she said.
The mother of two didn’t know there was an issue over the cost of her requests until she learned the school board was going to sue her.
According to the elementary schools website the school district “may charge a fee of fifteen cents ($.15) per page for copies and/or fifteen dollars ($15.00) per hour, after the first hour, for search and/or retrieval of documents.”
“You told me to submit public record requests to answer my questions,” Solas told school board members, according to a recording of the June 2 meeting. “I did what you told me, and now you are holding a public meeting to discuss suing me for doing what you told me to do. This meeting was meant to publicly humiliate me, and it didn’t work.”
The school board voted unanimously to not file suit against Solas, Cummiskey stepped down as chairwoman a few days later and on June 22 resigned from the school board entirely.
As part of her swan song Cummiskey inferred parents are the problem stating she hopes people “realize the damage that’s being done every single day that you all choose not to try to come together.”
“We are in a dangerous place … and if everybody does not take a deep, freaking breath, we are going to be in real trouble,” she said.
The shenanigans aren’t over though, Solas received some emails she requested however they have been “completely redacted.”
“Everything is blacked out except for some spam and advertisements. The school even redacted the dates of emails so it is impossible for me to know whether these emails are from the time period I requested,” Solas said.
“In an effort to be reasonable, I asked them to instead send me a prioritized list of APRAs with deadlines they can manage,” she added.
Solas isn’t backing down, through donations she’s paid the school district for the requested information and is encouraging parents to stand up.
“The people who work at schools are just ordinary people like us, and we should not have to be afraid of them,” she said.
The lawsuit had nothing to do with the cost of Solas’ requests which have amounted to around $800, this was all about trying to silence pushback.