Rochester school district accused of targeting parents who criticized the district and board

Parent recently filed lawsuit, claims the district got her fired from job after speaking out

Rochester school district accused of targeting parents fighting for in-person learning
Rochester school district accused of targeting parents fighting for in-person learning

ROCHESTER, Mich.Rochester Community Schools and its school board president are already named in a federal lawsuit accusing them of costing a parent her job because she criticized board policies on a return to face-to-face instruction.

The district denies the allegations in that lawsuit. Since Local 4’s report on Monday, other parents have reached out detailing their experiences with the board and administration.

One parent, Meredith McCutcheon, details how the superintendent called the cops on her last summer at her home.

READ: Parent files lawsuit, claims Rochester Community Schools got her fired after speaking out on in-person learning

“At that point, they asked me to step outside. I was like ‘What’s going on? I’ve never been in trouble in my life, I’m just a mom,’” McCutcheon said.

The district received a message on its website portal that read, “I will cause chaos in the district, I will get what I want you will listen to my demands and that of my forum. Extend the deadline to August 4, 2020, the parents deserve more time. We will hold out as long as necessary to suit our needs”.

Whoever wrote it signed McCutcheon’s name, and the email address and phone number were not hers. The district could not track the IP address.

According to a police report, Superintendent Robert Shaner viewed the message as a direct threat and called police wanting McCutcheon charged. He also sent out a letter to the entire district informing them of a threat. McCutcheon was told she could not contact the school board while the investigation was ultimately dropped.

McCutcheon had been an administrator on a large Facebook page with other parents called Parent Advocates for Rochester Community Schools. It has been active for years on various issues.

Last summer, the school district launched a virtual campus because of COVID and many of the parents on that page had questions. They asked for a townhall for more information and wanted the deadline to sign up extended.

After it became clear that nobody was going to be charged with anything, McCutcheon wanted to address the board on how the entire affair had been handled and was then sent an email by the district’s attorneys telling her of “the intent to preserve it’s legal remedies.”

McCutcheon said she did not appreciate what she considers as an intimidation tactic.

“It’s difficult for me to say I know for sure what’s happened in other cases because you don’t know all the details but I can tell you with my situation, it speaks to pattern. There is a pattern,” she said.

Local 4 reached out to Rochester Community School, asking if there were policies or criteria in place deciding how these cease and desist letters are sent and would anyone be available to discuss these decisions.

The district replied with a link to the school board’s handbook and policies.

More: Return to School updates

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