MISHAWAKA, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has obtained a message sent by the Vice President of the Penn Harris Madison School Board to the employer of a school district parent. The message is an apparent attempt to get the father of 4 fired from his job. And, it came only one week after the Indiana Department of Education finished a civil rights investigation that was initiated by the parent. In that case, PHM was forced to admit that they had violated the civil rights of straight, white children.
RNM was initially told by sources that the message had been sent from PHM VP Ryan McCullough’s work email address. While RNM has confirmed McCullough uses his work email for nearly all of his school board business, it turns out, the message was actually sent to the parent’s employer through McCullough’s professional LinkedIn account.
“I thought you should be aware that one of your employees… uses these platforms to post some disturbing social media post.” McCullough wrote in his message on September 28th. While a screenshot of the message can be seen below, RNM has redacted portions that could identify the parent’s employer.
Only a week earlier (and one day following the end of the investigation into parent’s civil rights complaint), PHM sent the parent a letter banning him from all school district property. The school district falsely claimed the parent, Ben Dallas, was threatening gun violence against the school board for creating a critical meme that included a scene from the movie The Matrix.
The meme is taken from a scene in The Matrix that 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. The scene is frequently used as a template for memes across the world to show people skillfully dodging controversial issues.
Dallas has been extremely vocal and critical of PHM, its administration and school board members for several 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.
Dallas was also successful in another complaint he filed against PHM earlier this year in which PHM 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.”
Dallas has now filed another Civil Rights complaint with the Department of Education for retaliation.
McCullough is currently a sales executive for fishing and tackle company Eagle Claw, which is part of Wright and McGill Co. In response to VP McCullough attempting to get him fired from his job, Dallas has begun wearing an Eagle Claw hat in videos he posts online, criticizing the school district and board. He has also created an intro to his videos pulled from an old Eagle Claw television commercial.
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