MISHAWAKA, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned through multiple sources Penn Harris Madison School Board Vice President Ryan McCullough attempted to get a vocal conservative parent fired from his private sector job for posting a popular Matrix meme which was critical of the school corporation. According to sources, McCullough sent an email to the parent’s employer. It turns out, McCullough attempted to skirt public records laws by sending the communication through his employer provided email address at Wright and McGill/Eagle Claw Tackle. McCullough is listed as a sales executive for the company.
“This is news to me,” the parent, Ben Dallas, told RNM when we first reached out to him about the incident on Monday. However, RNM confirmed Dallas has now filed a civil rights retaliation case against Penn Harris Madison Schools, in which he cites the email as part of his case.
RNM has filed a public records request for McCullough’s email communication. As of publication, we have not received a response. You can contact Eagle Claw by emailing email@example.com.
Last week, PHM also banned Dallas from all PHM property and from even attending school board meetings virtually. This came exactly one day after the Department of Education announced its findings in a Civil Rights investigation which was prompted by a complaint made by Dallas. The investigation concluded with PHM being forced to admit the school district violated the Civil Rights of straight white children.
Dallas has been extremely vocal and critical of PHM, its administration and school board members for years. He has spoken out about Critical Race Theory, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, radical gender theory and the district’s employment of a drag queen who works as a paraprofessional with developmentally disabled children.
According to a letter Dallas received last Wednesday, the ban stems from a video he created and posted to YouTube in which he uses a popular meme from the movie The Matrix. The meme shows the main character, Neo, dodging bullets being fired at him. In the meme created by Dallas, Neo is depicted as school board president Chris Riley. Instead of dodging bullets, Riley is dodging words that come across the page. Those words include “accountability,” “hiring sex workers” and “implicit bias” — all things Riley has been accused of ignoring in the PHM School Corporation.
In the video, Dallas also does a Sylvester Stallone impersonation from the movie Cobra. PHM attempts to claim that since there is violence in the movie, Dallas is threatening violence against PHM.
The beginning of the movie Cobra involves a man grabbing a gun with Sylvester Stallone narrating facts about society. He gives numbers of murders, robberies and other crimes and how often they occur. Dallas impersonates a Stallone voice in his parody where he says “At PHM, there’s a virtue signal every 11 seconds, a pronoun used every 65 seconds, indoctrination every 25 seconds, race shaming every 24 minutes and two additional sex workers will be hired to watch your children every year.” The video is clearly a parody to show that woke ideology is holding a figurative gun to PHM. Below is the original section of the movie Cobra followed by the parody created by Dallas.
Dallas was also successful in another complaint that he filed against PHM earlier this year in which Riley violated Indiana open door laws. That case is currently being used as an example by the state as how school boards should not behave in an article titled “Guidance from the Public Access Counselor on Public Comment at School Board Meetings.”
“I’m learning all of this from you.” School Board Member Matt Chaffee told RNM last week. “None of this has been reported to me.”
“What was PHM’s leadership stance when there was a picture posted online (by a frequent leftwing speaker at board meetings) of a literal target put over my name on one of my campaign yard signs?” Chaffee said. “Under Chris Riley’s leadership, the board never commented on it or took any action.”
Instead of banning Maria Guarraci for the apparent violent threat against members of the public who were running for school board, Riley praised her efforts.
“Thank you, Maria! Your involvement in our district is very much appreciated!” Riley wrote to her on Facebook.
This isn’t the first time a vocal conservative who has filed successful complaints against the school corporation has been banned from PHM property. In April of 2022, Riley had openly conservative PHM parent Andy Rutten arrested after he peacefully requested more time to address the board about its finances and a potential tax hike for residents.
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.
PHM BREAKS THE LAW
The State of Indiana released a scathing report in March of 2022, 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 of 2022, 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.”
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