MISHAWAKA, Ind. — A Penn Harris Madison Schools’ parent, who was arrested at a Board of Schools Trustees meeting in April, has officially filed his candidacy paperwork to become a member of the board. Andy Rutten is running for the district’s at-large seat, currently occupied by Board President Chris Riley.
In April, Riley had Rutten arrested after the parent peacefully requested more time to address the board about its finances and a potential tax hike for residents.
Andy Rutten was addressing the board with information he had gathered and was attempting to show numbers and statistics to members. During his presentation, a board member or administrator had taken up much of the Rutten’s allotted 3 minutes to reply to one aspect of the concerns. Immediately after, the parent requested more time. President Riley refused to give the parent the time he deserved and instead directed a Deputy to arrest him.
PHM subsequently filed a no-trespass order against Rutten. Criminal charges were never filed and the trespass order was subsequently lifted.
It appears the arrest was simply retaliation for Rutten exposing the district for crimes it had committed. A month prior to the arrest, the State of Indiana came down with a ruling showing PHM had broken several public records/meetings laws. The ruling from the state stemmed from a complaint filed by Rutten.
“I am concerned at the direction Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. seems to be heading.” Rutten told REAL News Michiana. “They tolerate political topics in the classroom like CRT and can be secretive with important education decisions. With declining test scores, many students are falling short of their potential while parental concerns are pushed aside. As a board member at PHM, I commit to ensuring our schools get back to the basics of excellent education, respect for parental rights and transparency to the taxpaying community.”
PHM BREAKS THE LAW
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 had 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.”
To learn more about Rutten and to support his campaign, visit AndyforPHM.com.
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