Michael “Hundreds of Millions” Gottesman and New Jersey Public Education Coalition (NJPEC) are trying to intimidate school boards and parents who dared to opt their kids out of the state’s controversial sex-ed guidelines.
Thanks to a friend, Sunlight was sent a copy of an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request signed by Gottesman individually and as founder of NJPEC. OPRA is basically the New Jersey equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request at the federal level and seeks documents and communications from government entities. Gottesman has reportedly blanketed selected school districts with OPRA requests. Not only is this an administrative burden on the district, but given the wide-ranging scope of Gottesman’s OPRA request (see below), it looks like an attempt at intimidation as well.
Here is a summation of Gottesman’s OPRA request:
- Total number of students enrolled in the district;
- Total number of students by grade level whose parents have opted them out of the state’s controversial sex ed guidelines;
- Opt-out forms;
- All documents showing how districts implemented their opt-out policies, including all communications to parents;
- All documents showing how districts implemented the sex ed guidelines in the classroom, at home by parents, as a homework assignment, in an assembly, on the last day of school, or instances where elements were removed from the instruction;
- Copies of BOE policies and regulations regarding the composition of a district’s book review committee and any policies governing book reviews or removal requests;
- Copies of any book removal or review requests made by district residents [parents];
- All documents relating the removal or demand for removal of books that were removed;
- All documents, policies or regulations relating to the review of current textbooks or textbooks being considered for purchase; and
- Copies of all legal bills from the board attorney or any outside attorney.
Two themes stand out: 1) this will require a great deal of administrative work from the district and the school board; and 2) this is an attempt to intimidate districts, school boards and parents who have pushed back against the sex ed guidelines. This is basically lawfare against selected districts and parents — that is, those that dare to challenge Gottesman’s progressive view of education.
Why is Gottesman doing this? Gottesman and NJPEC are heavily involved in running slates for school board this fall. Their targets are the many school boards that activist parents took over after they did not like what they saw in their schools during the pandemic. As Sunlight has documented, NJPEC looks very much like an NJEA/NEA front funded by dark-money Super PAC Education Truth Project (ETP). ETP’s dark-money status allows NJEA to hide its anti-parent role in these districts. As in the past, Gottesman and NJPEC are more than happy to do the dirty work and the bullying.
As we have said many times: beware New Jersey school boards and parents, where you see Michael “Hundreds of Millions” Gottesman and NJPEC in action, know that mendacity and bullying are sure to follow. And that they are most likely NJEA/NEA fronts.