WHITLEY COUNTY, Ind. — The Vice President of the Whitley County Consolidated School’s Board of Trustees turned his back on a parent at a meeting last night as he was called out for a conflict of interest. Board Member, Timothy Bloom, is a partner at a law firm that was hired by the district to threaten the parent with legal action because the parent has been outspoken about the district’s masking policies.
REAL News Michiana Broke the story on the attempted intimidation on December 8th. Since then, politicians, pundits and even Tucker Carlson picked up the story.
“You can’t face me, can you?” Damien Stafford said as Bloom sat with his back turned to him. Bloom was seen scrolling through his cell phone as the rest of the board intently listened to Stafford’s concerns.
“Stop using law firms that are partnered with school board members or a vice president of the school board.” Stafford said while addressing the board. “One of two things need to happen; either that member should resign or you should dissolve relations with that law firm due to a conflict of interest and the funneling of taxpayer money to their own business or just using influence of power with this racket.”
“Our children are not your pawns.” Stafford continued. “And guess what? You’re not going to silence me.”
Last month, an attorney with Bloom’s firm (Bloom, Gates, Shipman and Whiteleather) sent Stafford a letter demanding he not communicate with any teacher, staff or administrator about anything, including issues dealing with his own children.
In the letter dated November 23rd, attorney John Whiteleather wrote to Stafford, in part, “until advised to the contrary all communications or contact of whatsoever nature between you and any and all administrators, faculty and staff of WCCS shall be directly through my office. In other words, you are to immediately cease and desist all communications or contact directly or indirectly with or to the employees of this school system…”
“You need to understand that this school system is required to comply with the federal mandate that all students are required to wear appropriate face masks which (sic) occupying our school busses.” Whiteleather continues. “Again, Mr. Stafford, from now on any communication or contact with each and every one of the administrators, faculty, staff and all other employees of Whitley County Consolidated Schools must be directly through my office. Your failure or refusal to comply with this directive will require further action, including legal proceedings.”
You can read the entire letter below.
REAL News Michiana reached out to the firm in late November to get comment on both the obvious conflict of interest and the letter sent to the parent. Nobody from the firm has responded.
“It’s a very broad, broad letter.” Damien Stafford, who has two children in the school district, said to RNM earlier this month. “It’s all because I’ve been outspoken against the mask mandate.” Stafford, who is also a combat veteran of the Iraq War, added.
“If I didn’t speak, I’ve had someone read something from me at every school board meeting since May I believe.” Stafford told RNM about his recent involvement with the school district. “I’ve talked to the transportation director, assistant principals, principals, everybody. I’m just saying, ‘Hey, look, this isn’t right. My kids are being forced off of the bus and there are others who aren’t (wearing masks getting forced off).”
“(My main issue is) whether we agree or disagree with the mask mandate, at least make sure it’s fair.” He said. “We can have a debate about the mask mandate later, after they enforce it equally across the board.”
“This letter is them trying to silence me.” Stafford added. “They’re trying to shut me up. I’m not going anywhere and they think they can scare me away.”
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