MISHAWAKA, Ind. — The Penn Harris Madison School Corporation issued a no trespass order to a parent who initiated a State investigation into the school district. That investigation by the state revealed PHM was indeed breaking open door laws. This also comes a day after the school board had the parent, Andy Rutten, arrested during a board meeting for peacefully attempting to address the board about PHM’s finances.
“You are being advised that you are not to enter the property of Penn-Harris-Madison Schools which includes attending events, activities or functions associated with Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation.” The letter, dated April 26th, states.
At PHM’s Board of School Trustees meeting on April 25th, the board had Rutten arrested by a St. Joseph County Deputy for peacefully attempting to address the board about its financial situation.
Rutten was addressing the board with information he had gathered and was attempting to show numbers and statistics to members at the time. During his presentation, a board member or administrator had taken up much of the Ruttens allotted 3 minutes to reply to one aspect of the concerns. Immediately after, the Rutten requested more time to discuss another point of concern.
Board President Chris Riley denied Rutten’s request for time. As Rutten calmly insisted that he be able to continue to present to the board, Riley called a St. Joseph County Deputy over to intervene. Rutten was subsequently placed in handcuffs and arrested.
PHM BREAKS THE LAW
The arrest and trespass warning comes only weeks after the State of Indiana came down with a ruling showing the school district broke the law in regard to how it holds public meetings. Rutten made the complaint that lead to the ruling.
The State of Indiana released a scathing report in March, condemning the Penn Harris Madison School Corporation for blatantly breaking public records laws after an investigation by Indiana’s Public Access Counselor (PAC).
In a 9 page report by the PAC, the state lays out the complaint, Indiana’s laws and the violations committed by PHM Schools.
In January, Rutten submitted a public records request for information regarding PHM’s Superintendent Advisory Council (SAC). PHM claimed the SAC was exempt from Indiana’s Open Door Law — which requires meetings of certain public bodies be open to the public. PHM erroneously stated that since members of the SAC are appointed by the Superintendent and not an elected body, the meetings did not need to be open to the public.
The SAC has been responsible for pushing Critical Race Theory tenets into PHM schools through Diversity Equity and Inclusion initiatives. All of their meetings have been held in secret due to PHM’s violations.
According to PHM’s Website, “The objective of the SAC Steering Committee this year will be to serve in an advisory role regarding the implementation of the district’s DEI goals proposed by the SAC last year. P-H-M values and celebrates diversity and seeks to work on eliminating racial injustices and discrimination within the school district.”
The SAC consists of “members of P-H-M’s administration, teachers, staff, parents/guardians, students, as well as the greater community,” according to the website.
In the conclusion of his report, the Public Access Counselor wrote, “it is the opinion of this office that the Superintendent’s Advisory Council for Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation is subject to the Open Door Law.”
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