MISHAWAKA, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has discovered pictures of what appear to be the Penn Harris Madison School Board Vice President’s son pretending to hold a gun in social media posts mentioning Penn High School and Homecoming Weekend. The picture, which was posted on Friday, appears to include the son of PHM School Board VP Ryan McCullough and another young man wielding gas pumps as if they were firearms. McCullough’s son attends Penn High School and is on the Penn HS football team. While RNM will not name the child, the photo is posted to a popular and publicly viewable Instagram page. Because of that, the picture is being included in this story unredacted.
The picture appearing to show McCullough’s son wielding the fake gun was posted to the Instagram page titled OfficiallyFridayPenn. McCullough and PHM have recently banned a parent from all PHM property for posting a meme which is objectively less threatening than what McCullough’s son appears to be doing.
Just last week, RNM published a story in which McCullough attempted to get a parent fired from his non-school related job for posting a meme that was critical of PHM and its school board president Chris Riley. The meme showed Riley dodging words like “accountability” and “implicit bias.” Riley and other liberal members of the board have since banned the parent from all PHM property by falsely claiming the meme constituted threats of gun violence against the school district. McCullough went a step further by contacting the parent’s employer in an attempt to get him fired from his job. However, it appears McCullough’s son was not punished for the picture he had posted to social media and was allowed to attend homecoming events this weekend.
PHM sent parent Ben Dallas a no-trespassing order last month, 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, 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.
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.”
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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