ELKHART, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned Elkhart Community Schools did not get approval from the district’s school board prior to threatening our news organization with a lawsuit in an erroneous Cease and Desist letter regarding one of its administrators. Sources tell RNM the board does not support the threatened action and it’s likely the Superintendent signed off on having an attorney issue the legal threats — although those details have not yet been confirmed.
An attorney for Elkhart Community Schools sent REAL News Michiana a Cease and Desist letter on June 15th threatening to sue the news organization for publishing a story that accurately describes how the district and an administrator are actively fighting to keep pornographic material in school libraries.
“I write as counsel for Elkhart Community Schools (“ECS”) regarding false statements you have made about an ECS employee on a website known as ‘Real News Michiana.’ The comments concern Tara White, the Director of Literacy for ECS.” Mark J. Crandley, an attorney representing ECS wrote in the Cease and Desist letter. “In your posts on the website, you repeatedly claim Ms. White promoted pornography to children. This statement is false and defamatory. At no time has Ms. White provided pornography to children. A sample of such an article is attached.”
RNM responded by telling Mr. Crandley that the story is accurate and we look forward to any litigation. Further, we would file a countersuit following Indiana’s anti-slapp statute.
On May 19th, RNM published a story regarding ECS and the school district’s Director of Literacy Tara White. Nowhere in the story does RNM state that White was promoting pornography to children. Instead, RNM includes an email she sent to district principals which was in defiance of an Elkhart County Commissioners’ resolution banning pornography in Elkhart libraries.
In an email on January 23rd, White defended sexual books currently available to children as young as 5-years-old at Elkhart Community Schools. White is responsible for deciding what gets added to the libraries in the first place.
“This resolution is NON-BINDING, meaning that it has no legal enforcement measures, but I am sure that the press coverage and social media buzz around this resolution may bring more questions from parents about resources in our school libraries.” White stated in her email. “However, there may still be parents or stakeholders who object to books we have in our schools. If you are faced with a parent who has an issue with a book or resource, please remember these guidelines in working with parents on these issues. I have also included a few slides here that we use for intellectual freedom training that reference current case law concerning book challenges. As you will see in these case law slides and as our ECS guidelines reflect, a book that has been challenged MUST remain on the shelf until the Reconsideration Committee has completed its process and made a decision. We open ourselves up to a greater liability by removing books preemptively or self-censoring our collections versus letting the board-approved process play out through reconsideration procedures we have in place.”
The attorney then took a section of the May 19th story completely out of context, claiming RNM was calling other books “pornographic.” While RNM is clear in its article that, despite the resolution, White added more controversial books to elementary school library shelves that “involved communism, transgenderism, sex and the LGBTQ agenda.”
A list of those books include:
Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution! — Ages 4-8 — A story about transgender women of color which, according to Amazon, “introduces children to issues surrounding gender identity and diversity, accompanied by a reading guide and teaching materials to further the conversation.” That reading guide prompts children to choose their own pronouns and names and helps them down the path of political, marxist activism.
Julian is a Mermaid — Ages 2-6 — A story that introduces children as young as 2 to the world of Drag. The front cover of the book features a young boy dressed as a female.
Ana on the Edge — Ages 8-12 — A story about a non-binary 12-year-old.
The Fabulous Zed Watson — Ages 8-12 — A story about a transgender child who is often “misgendered.”
The Insiders — Ages 8-12 — A story about a gay child.
Hurricane Child — Ages 8-12 — A story about a little girl who falls in love with another little girl.
The ECS attorney (being paid by tax dollars) threatened to sue RNM in his Cease and Desist letter for Defamation before demanding we remove our original story and refrain from publishing any future stories regarding the issue.
RNM let Mr. Crandley know that we look forward to any litigation, the discovery process and that all communication will be subject to another story. The public can read the Cease and Desist letter sent to RNM below.
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