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CDC sued for withholding records between top personnel and teachers' unions on school reopenings

CDC sued for withholding records between top personnel and teachers' unions on school reopenings

A watchdog group is suing the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over its failure to produce communications between top agency brass and teachers’ unions over school reopenings. Americans for Public Trust (APT), a D.C.-based ethics nonprofit, filed suit Thursday after failing to receive complete records the group says could show “undue political influence” of outside groups over the CDC’s decision-making process shaping its school reopening guidance.  “A few months back, Americans for Public Trust requested documents from the CDC. However, the CDC released only a handful of pages out of hundreds of documents received,” said Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of APT. “And that small portion revealed the teachers’ unions influenced the CDC to keep our schools closed.”According to a copy of the complaint provided to Fox News, APT alleges the government agencies have violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to “completely fulfill” a February records request for “emails, communications, correspondence, and talking points describing CDC guidance” for reopening schools. In response to the request, the CDC had identified 400 pages of responsive records but only released 63 pages in full while redacting 148 pages in total. The remaining 189 pages contained partial redactions, citing FOIA Exemption 5, which pertains to sensitive government records.”Exemption 5 is commonly interpreted as shielding from release draft government documents, records of sensitive deliberations before decisions are made, and government attorney-client deliberations,” Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group, has written of the “most abused” exemption. “These types of documents deserve some protection. But agencies stretch the exemption to inappropriately cover other information, such as records that may paint the agency in a bad light, records that reveal problems, and records that contain embarrassing information.” APT alleges that HHS had “improperly redacted non-exempt information” in the initial production of the records. The group also says that the department has failed to make a “timely determination” regarding an appeal to the redacted emails they have received thus far. Redacted portions of the emails received by APT include White House staffers asking CDC staffers to answer communication-related questions from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association, two of the most prominent teachers’ unions.

(Americans for Public Trust)HHS and CDC did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPIn May, APT released emails showing how AFT had influenced school reopenings. The emails contained a “flurry of activity” between CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, her advisors, and union officials, The New York Post reported. One email described the AFT as a “thought partner” to the CDC. In some circumstances, language was adopted “almost verbatim” in the final CDC school reopening guidance suggested by the union. 

Virginia school steers $24,000 to consulting firm for equity training, race programs for teachers

Virginia school steers $24,000 to consulting firm for equity training, race programs for teachers

A Loudoun County, Virginia, high school dished out $24,000 to a racial equity firm that had already collected nearly half a million dollars from the county for providing race programs, documents show.According to a contract provided to Fox News, the Sterling, Va.-based Park View High School paid cash to The Equity Collaborative, a North Carolina-based consulting firm, for six virtual equity training sessions for educators between Feb. 1 and April 12.Wayde Byard, the public information officer for Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), did not say what services the group provided but said Title I Funds covered the contract. Such funds must go towards helping low-income students meet state academic standards. The contract appears to be the first between a Virginia school and the Equity Collaborative. However, it comes on the heels of the county pushing $500,000 in funds to the group for programs designed to counter systematic bias and oppression.Loudoun County has further laid out plans to allocate more than $6 million for “equity” and “equity training” in its 2022 fiscal year budget, although it is unclear what the cash will cover. Byard told Fox News that “the majority – $5.49 million or 90% – is to provide equitable access to instruction and resources for our 85,867 projected students.”
Amy Jahr sings the Star Spangled Banner after a Loudoun County School Board meeting was halted by the school board because the crowd refused to quiet down, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.  June 22, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
(Reuters)The latest revelation helps shed light on the inner workings of a county that has captured national attention as a prominent battlefield over critical race theory (CRT). Although LCPS has denied teaching CRT, an invoice shows the Equity Collaborative explicitly charging the school system for training related to “critical race theory.”Defenders generally argue that CRT-type training helps enhance dominant groups’ understanding and empathy of what the oppressed experience on a regular basis. These types of trainings have also been promoted as ways to “dismantle” or weaken alleged structures imposing burdens through bias and discrimination. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP”In explaining LCPS’ equity priorities, it might be helpful to state what they are not. They are not an effort to indoctrinate students and staff into a particular philosophy or theory. What they are is an effort to provide a welcoming, inclusive, affirming environment for all students,” said then-Interim Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler.”LCPS’ work on equity is a journey that requires the commitment of staff at all levels. I feel the staff’s work, which has been sustained, honest and undertaken in good faith, has been misrepresented recently by some members of the public,” he added.