MISHAWAKA, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned the Penn Harris Madison Schools’ communications director, Lucha Ramey, was one of dozens of donors to give money to a Political Action Committee that was created to fight against the three conservative candidates for the PHM Board of School Trustees who were on the ballot for the November 8th election. Lucha Ramey donated about $100 to the Coalition for Common Sense PAC which openly supported 3 left leaning school board candidates, according to information obtained by Transparency USA.
This donation comes as REAL News Michiana is digging into many of the suspicious actions taken by the school district’s comms department, which is run by Ramey, that appeared to use tax dollars to support the left-leaning candidates and oppose the three conservatives.
EMAIL BLASTS TO STAFF AND PARENTS
PHM actively appeared to support the liberal candidates and oppose the conservatives with two emails sent out to staff and then parents.
The first email was sent to staff on October 17th. The email contained a link to a hit piece from the South Bend Tribune about the 3 conservative candidates, Bryan Jones, Andy Rutten and Matt Chaffee. The title of the story is P-H-M defends academics as conservative-backed school board candidates target test scores.
The same link was included in an October 20th email to all parents in the district.
PHM also sent out a trifold in the mail in early October making several claims about the district’s test scores and taxes, which were two campaign arguments being made by the conservative candidates. The literature is dishonest by leaving out important context regarding those two issues. It does not discuss declining test scores and college readiness of students and does not point out how the amount of money going into the schools from taxes has actually gone up.
The mailer also contained pictures that appeared to highlight the left-leaning school board candidates who were on the ballot. One picture features School Board President Chris Riley with Superintendent Jerry Thacker. Another photo shows liberal board member James Turnwald.
PATTERN OF UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR
REAL News Michiana published a story about multiple complaints regarding Ramey’s behavior in December of 2021. Parents accused her of preventing the public to speak at board meetings and verbally attacking parents.
ATTACKING A PARENT
At the November 22nd, 2021, board meeting, one parent claims they were speaking with a board member after the meeting had finished. In the parent’s emailed complaint to Superintendent Jerry Thacker, the parent claims she was berated by Ms. Ramey for discussing an article written by RNM regarding an applicant for an open board seat.
“Lucha Ramey Aggressively interrupted our conversation.” The parent wrote. “She was very agitated (as she was) talking down about a local journalist that (sic) wrote an article about a board applicant. I stopped her and calmly stated ‘I’m sorry but you interrupted a private conversation.’”
The parent claims Ramey became more aggressive after that.
“She pointed her finger in my face… stating ‘what you guys are doing is despicable.’” The email reads. “(The board member) told her she should not treat a parent like that. She proceeded to tell (the board member) she had corrected misinformation from an article and sent it to the board… I repeated to her that she does not get to interrupt private conversations. She said ‘I am the director of communications and it is my job to clear up misinformation.’”
RNM reached out to Ms. Ramey and Superintendent Thacker via email.
“(The comments made by the communications director are) concerning, due to the fact that nobody from PHM administration has reached out to me to request a retraction, correction or provide criticism of any kind regarding stories I have published. This is defamatory behavior toward a journalist and parent of a PHM student. Is there currently an investigation into Ms. Ramey for any of these complaints? And, does Ms. Ramey admit to making statements or claims of misinformation produced by Clifton French?”
Nobody responded to RNM’s request for comment.
PREVENTING THE PUBLIC FROM SPEAKING
In another incident uncovered by RNM, a parent accuses Ramey of preventing his wife from attending and speaking at a board meeting in June of 2021. However, Ramey took the liberty of speaking during the public comment herself.
“I’m writing to request a brief conference to discuss in greater detail an issue wherein my wife… and a handful of others were prevented by a PHM staff member from attending and
giving visitor comments to the PHM school board at their 6/21 meeting. This staff member, as you may recall, then opted to speak towards the meeting end as an in-person visitor. I was almost prevented from attending and giving comments as well.” The parent wrote in his formal complaint.
Much of the meeting discussed PHM’s stance on having Critical Race Theory included in the curriculum. While Ramey is accused of preventing the public from speaking during the meeting, she stood up during public comment and addressed the board herself — promoting CRT practicum like Microagressions.
“What I have sat here and listened to for the past 20 minutes or so, in and of itself, is the definition of microagression.” She said. “I am a person of color who is also biracial.”
“It’s the equivalent of someone coming up to you and saying, ‘I have cancer’ and you are the doctor and have to cure of cancer and you look over that person and refuse to give it to them.” Seeming to suggest that CRT is the cure for racism.
It’s unclear if any disciplinary action has been taken against Ramey to this point.
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This is classic “circling the wagons”. PHM tried (and likely successfully) to make the argument that it was teachers that were under attack by the three conservative candidates, which couldn’t be further from the truth. As a manufacturer and employer myself, I can have the best production workers in the world (and I do) but if my machinery and processes deteriorate, the products will also deteriorate. School boards have to critically evaluate all processes, incentives, disciplinary protocols, etc to allow teachers to flourish in the classroom, not shackle them with needless and seemingly relentless “alphabet initiatives” that detract from the personal, positive learning experience that only a good teacher can provide to a student.
It would be not only shameful but I agree possibly illegal if anyone in administration used administrative resources (emails) and/or school funds to influence an election outcome. They should be held accountable. If I were in PHM I would pursue action, but I am not. I pray someone will take the reigns on this.
This is infuriating. How do people get away with this?? I have always said the power is in the numbers. We need more people to voice out against these actions and demand accountability.