For more than three years, Guilford, CT has been mired in a toxic atmosphere engineered by Superintendent of Schools, Paul Freeman, a disciple of the now disgraced racist polemicist, Ibram Kendi, and a complicit Board of Education. This controversy has caused an unprecedented level of division in this once quiet community. At issue is the question of whether a political majority can impose a highly toxic, radicalized, racialized, and sexualized ideology upon students in a school system paid for by all taxpayers, including those in the minority. And can that majority, in the process, violate state laws mandating that both administrators and teachers “provide access to all points of view without deliberate distortion of subject matter.” The answer to this question should be an unqualified “NO,” but we are living in deeply troubling times and the left is emboldened to do things that would have never been countenanced in years past when common sense and the rule of law prevailed.
This toxic atmosphere has infested not only the schools, but law enforcement, and town management. An unholy triumvirate, consisting of the first selectman, Matt Hoey; school superintendent, Paul Freeman; and then police chief, Warren Hyatt, formed a united phalanx to stifle dissent and punish, or engage in ad hominem attacks against, those who protested the bullying of their children, or take exception to the indoctrination of students in grades K through 12. One mother who protested the bullying of her children, for example, was called “a dog with a bone” by the first selectman, who had similar words for one of her supporters. Hoey behaves more like the partisan head of a radicalized Democrat Party, than as a public servant of all the people. In 2021, the children of the Republican candidates for the Guilford Board of Education were singled out for bullying, with some teachers turning a blind eye, and the administration sitting on its hands. It sent a chilling message to other parents to remain silent or run the risk of similar treatment of their own children. One-party rule and group think are corrosive influences in a small community, the latest outrage of which is an ideological litmus test for new teacher hires.
The 2021 Board of Education election was a watershed event. The Guilford Democrats, with the complicity of first selectman, Matt Hoey, who could have objected, engineered a fusion ticket in such a way as to shut out any minority representation by Republicans. They thought they were being clever, but they were driven by impure motives in which common decency was jettisoned in the interest of total political power. They eviscerated the minority representation rule by substituting three “Independents” for the three previously Republican seats and conspired by having majority party Democrats vote for those three candidates in a year when only two Democrat seats were up. These so-called “Independents” were chosen, not because they would be independent voices, but because they would vote in lockstep with the existing BOE in support of the woke agenda of superintendent Paul Freeman. Freeman has orchestrated his woke agenda by wasting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on racist texts, and on a homogeneous gaggle of unqualified consultants marinated in the same toxic and racist ideology emanating from education schools notorious for their low academic standards. The election guaranteed that the BOE would be an ideological monolith whose deliberations would be defined by group think. Thus, we have an Independent Party representing 300-odd, registered voters replacing the Republican Party representing 3,300 registered voters (ten times as many).
In April 2022, a student wore a gas mask to the high school where he appeared in numerous classes, including the study hall and cafeteria. He was observed by many students, some of whom took photos of him with their cell phones, photos which were shared widely on the Internet. However, only one of these students, the son of former DARE officer and 2021 Republican BOE candidate, Bill Maisano, a retired Guilford police officer, had the courage and good judgment to file a report, under penalty of perjury. Such is the toxic climate in the high school created under Freeman’s administration, however, that most students are afraid to get involved in controversy for fear of being singled out, as were their parents. Attempts to obtain copies of the police report by several members of the community were denied by police chief, Warren Hyatt. What was particularly outrageous about this incident, however, was that it was suggested that the student filing the report, and/or his father, could be charged with filing a false police report, rather than applauded for having the courage to fulfill their civic duty. The chief’s action was a political act designed to protect Paul Freeman from negative publicity flowing from his failure to acknowledge and deal with the potential threat posed by the student wearing the gas mask. “Nothing to see here.” When taken to task to the Board of Police Commissioners for this malfeasance, he subsequently resigned.
Wearing a gas mask to school is, by its very nature, a threatening act deserving of police intervention and a threat assessment, particularly when the student talked about “killing the Jews.” Numerous school shootings around the country were preceded by similar warning signs from the eventual perpetrators, including those at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018, and the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in 2022, to name just three. The act in Guilford was a clear warning sign, and it should have been acted upon with utmost seriousness and a threat assessment. Not with criminal prosecution, but with appropriate counseling to ascertain the student’s mindset and potential to commit violent acts in the future. A proper threat assessment would have included the examination of his cell phone and computer to determine if he had shown any interest in chemical or biological means to do harm, or in firearms with the same aim.
Sadly, the report in the Guilford Courier and other news outlets downplayed the incident, and simply echoed the statements of Superintendent Paul Freeman that “no credible threat existed.” According to the New Haven Register, Freeman’s email the following Monday stated that the reports of the alleged threat were exaggerated,” saying there “is no credible evidence of a specific threat in this instance at this time.” The Superintendent was in no position to make such a categorical statement. He has no training in criminal law, police protocols, or threat assessment. A doctorate (EdD) in educational administration provides none of those things. I repeat that the mere wearing a gas mask in school is, by its very nature, a threatening act, whether or not it was directed at a specific person or persons. I also have it on the authority of Dr. Armand Fusco, a local resident, former school superintendent, and national expert on school safety, that wearing a gas mask in school by itself is a threatening act, a fact that demands a threat assessment. This is reiterated in his comprehensive book on school safety, entitled Does Your Child Attend a Safe School? NO! (page 91), published this year.
Freeman’s dismissive attitude was compounded by his statements in the Guilford Courier article the following week in which he was quoted multiple times saying that there was “no corroborating evidence.” This was false. Bill Maisano’s son, filed a report under penalty of perjury. That was sufficient corroboration to warrant further investigation. The fact that his father was involved in a group critical of Paul Freeman’s leadership of the Guilford Public Schools and had been a BOE candidate was irrelevant. The threat was serious enough to warrant evaluation on its own merits apart from any imputed motivations of the individual filing the report. On the issue of corroboration, Paul Freeman responded as bureaucrats are wont to respond when the institutions, bureaus or departments over which they have responsibility are subject to criticism—denial or obfuscation. Freeman has a habit of inflating what he believes are the “successes” of his radical racial agenda and dismissing the negative consequences of his actions as regards school safety, financial management, hiring of consultants, approval of the purchase of pornographic books for school libraries, and gender grooming, to name just a few.
Jump to June 16, 2023. Bill Maisano was troubled by reports that Regina Sullivan, a health/physical education teacher, GEA union president, and admitted lesbian (I express no opinion about her chosen lifestyle), was planning to die her hair in Pride colors for the graduation ceremony. Mr. Maisano correctly understood that this was not only contrary to school policy of not injecting personal politics into instruction or school activities, but that it was grossly inappropriate for the day honoring the graduates. He emailed high school principal, Julia Chaffe at 10:49 AM, urging her to put a stop to it. He wrote that there would be “hell to pay” since “as a teacher, by law, she [Sullivan] will be crossing the line, and so will the school by not shutting this down now.” At 1:57 PM, he sent a second email to Julia Chaffe stating that “my phrasing was meant as a statement that if she were allowed to make graduation about herself, then I would respond. Not with violence but with media exposure.”
At this point, principal Chaffe should have called Mr. Maisano and engaged into a direct dialogue to assure him that she understood his concerns and would speak with Ms. Sullivan, informing her of school policy. This would have been the decent thing to do. But she chose not to do that, and ignoring the significant qualifications made in his second email, reported the incident to the Guilford Police Department. According to the Guilford Courier:
“Chaffe said she was “concerned by the email’s tone and content, specifically the phrase ‘there is going to be hell to pay.’ Sullivan contacted Guilford police and reported the “threatening” email on June 18,” i.e. two days after Chaffe had received both emails.
Chaffe’s behavior was unbefitting a school principal, reflected poor judgment, and, as a former union member and friend of the complainant, probable political bias. According to the Courier:
“The Guilford Police Department issued an arrest warrant for a retired Guilford police officer who was subsequently placed into custody and charged with breach of peace after sending a threatening email to Guilford High School (GHS) Principal Julia Chaffe.”
Of course, the reporter’s terminology is inaccurate and unnecessarily hyperbolic. The emails were not “threatening,”
as the term is generally understood in legal and political contexts, except to someone who had political reasons for exploiting that impression.
“When questioned, Maisano told police he was “upset that the political statement would detract from the hard work of all the graduating seniors” but stated that he did not intend to hurt anyone and assured police he would not disrupt the ceremony, according to the affidavit.”
Email exchanges obtained through the Freedom Information Act reveal that Freeman, Sullivan, Chaffe, Kate Dias, (president of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA)), and Chris Teifke, a statewide organizer and staff liaison for CEA Pride (a union political initiative) were all communicating with each other, and from which a CEA statement to the Guilford BOE supporting Freeman emerged. This was to be expected, since Freeman is an ally of the union and fully on board with its political agenda. So, instead of exercising his administrative duty to reign-in those teachers who abuse their positions by injecting their personal politics into their educational role, Freeman gives them carte blanche because their ideological and union-driven agendas run parallel. It explains how the politicization, racialization, and sexualization of education in Guilford proceeds, with Freeman’s tacit approval.
What is troubling about this incident is that a man whose children have suffered repeated acts of bullying at school is having his First Amendment rights to free speech compromised in a fit of political vengeance for expressing a strong opinion, and an opinion that was clearly qualified in the second email to the recipient, Julia Chaffe. “Hell to pay” is an expression employed with some frequency in political and other realms. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “’there’ll be hell to pay’ is something you say that means someone will be very angry if something happens.” The vast majority of definitions of the phrase are admonitory, without implications of violence. Nancy Pelosi said there would be “’hell to pay’” for Senate Republicans if they don’t pass a universal background check bill.” The political realm is replete with such language. Was Pelosi placed in custody and charged with breach of the peace? What about Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, who threatened Supreme Court Justices, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch in front of the Supreme Court by shouting:
“I want to tell you Gorsuch. I want to tell you Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
Schumer’s words spurred illegal protests in front of the Justices homes, terrorizing their families. But, in this case, “hell to pay” was qualified with the words “Not with violence but with media exposure.” Apparently, Julia Chaffe, who though placed in charge of Guilford High School, lacks the critical thinking skills, discretion, and decency to exercise her administrative role.
This entire incident is laced with political implications that expose the animosity of Ms. Sullivan toward those who challenge her insinuation of political and sexual issues into school affairs, both individually and as union president. This clearly smacks more of vendetta than legitimate legal action. Her statement that she felt “unsafe, unwanted, intimidated and threatened because of her sexuality” rings hollow considering her narcissistic attempt to inject that sexuality into the graduation ceremony, and her subsequent behavior.
But that’s not the end of the story. After Maisano’s first email only was sent by Regina Sullivan to Kate Dias, CEA president, the union used one of them, without context, in a power point presentation on gender issues to union members. But instead of displaying both emails, the presentation only displayed the first one, implying that Maisano did not qualify his words “hell to pay” with “Not with violence but with media exposure.” And, to make matters worse, Maisano’s name and email were projected as well, which might have subjected the defendant and his family to hate email. This was an indefensible act, yet reflective of Sullivan’s character and teachers’ union tactics. Yet, it is probably sufficient to undermine Sullivan’s credibility and provide grounds for the judge to throw out the case.
Freeman, for his part, could have intervened and allayed Mr. Maisano’s concerns by speaking to Sullivan, but chose not to do so for personal and political reasons. And the current chief of police exercised poor judgment by having Maisano arrested and having him charged with breach of the peace before even hearing his side of the story, suggesting that the triumvirate has been reconstituted.
If you’ve thought about moving to Guilford for the schools, think again. My children and grandchildren already moved to escape Freeman’s indoctrination factories we finance with our tax dollars.