PHM Super. says parent banned from school because he’s a veteran

Jerry Thacker
PHM Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker

MISHAWAKA, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned from multiple sources that the Penn Harris Madison School Corporation is maintaining a ban on a parent because he is a combat veteran. According to two sources who wish not to be named out of fear of retaliation, Superintendent Jerry Thacker said PHM is maintaining a ban against a parent of 4 children in the district because he is a veteran and he owns guns. The parent retired from the Army in 2016. He did two combat tours, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

The parent, Ben Dallas, was initially banned from all school property in September. A letter from PHM initially claimed Dallas was banned for posting a meme on social media that was critical of the school district, specifically PHM School Board President Chris Riley. However, the banishment came only a day after the US Department of Education came down with a ruling showing the school district violated the civil rights of straight white students — all stemming from a formal complaint filed by Dallas.

According to a letter Dallas received in September, 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. PHM claimed the video below is considered a threat of gun violence.

Despited an investigation conducted and completed by the St. Joseph County Police Department showing there was no threat of gun violence and no crime committed, PHM has maintained its ban against Dallas for nearly two months.


One week after PHM banned Dallas from school grounds, the PHM School Board Vice President then sent Dallas’ employer a message on Linkedin in an attempt to get the father of 4 fired from his private sector job.

“I thought you should be aware that one of your employees… uses these platforms to post some disturbing social media post.” PHM School Board Vice President Ryan 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.

McCullough has since refused to address the issue when being pressed by other members of the board, calling it a private matter. In emails obtained by RNM, school board member Matt Chaffee attempted to get the issue added to the school board agenda for the November meeting, however, McCullough played stupid claiming PHM leadership never contacts the employers of parents.


Dallas has been extremely vocal and critical of PHM, its administration and school board members. 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 that he filed against PHM earlier this year in which the school district 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.”

Last month, RNM learned the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) opened another investigation into the Penn Harris Madison School Corporation focusing on apparent retaliation the school district has taken against Dallas.

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  1. Ben, your kids are welcome in Jimtown Schools, a conservative hard-working district with academic standards as high as PHM (investigate ILEARN statistics, it will amaze you). After an emergency meeting was held with the public and overwhelming public objection to the idea of masking, we were the only district around here that never put face diapers on our kids or staff during covid.


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