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School District Lies—Goldwater Sues

February 5, 2024

The South Kingstown, Rhode Island, school district’s war on parents just won’t end. But the Goldwater Institute is holding the district accountable for its numerous attempts to shield crucial information from parents and the public. Attorneys with the Goldwater Institute’s American Freedom Network are suing the district to compel transparency.

First, the district demanded $74,000 in public records fees from concerned mom Nicole Solas just to find out what her daughter would be learning in kindergarten.

Then, the nation’s largest teachers union sued Nicole for filing those records requests—even though that’s what the district had asked her to do.

Next, the district barred Nicole from attending secret meetings of the taxpayer-funded Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Advisory Board, where the board developed policies for the district.

And now the latest revelation, which came to light after the Goldwater Institute sued the district for violating Rhode Island’s Open Meetings Act: district officials didn’t just conduct BIPOC Advisory Board meetings behind closed doors, but they denied the very existence of public records regarding the board meetings when officials had those records in their possession.

The Goldwater Institute’s American Freedom Network of pro bono attorneys is once again stepping in to bring the school district’s secrets to light. Last month, American Freedom Network attorneys Gregory Piccirilli and Kevin McCaffrey filed a complaint in Rhode Island Superior Court, demanding production of these records and a civil fine against school officials for their knowing and willful violation of state public records law.

The South Kingstown School Committee established the BIPOC Advisory Board on July 22, 2020, to develop and review school district policies and practices, and to determine if the policies did not promote “inclusivity” and “equity,” for a more “inclusive and antiracist” district. The board held 25 closed-door meetings between February and August of 2020 to review district policies. It was evident that the board was advising district officials on significant matters within the school district, including policies regarding curriculum, hiring, and discipline.

After board coordinator Robin Wildman denied Nicole’s requests to open the meetings to the public, Nicole sought transparency through Rhode Island’s public records law. She submitted a formal public records request on May 3, 2021, seeking access to “[a]ll BIPOC advisory board records including meeting minutes, budgets; and information about BIPOC members.” In response, then-Superintendent of Schools Linda Savastano claimed the district was “not in possession of responsive records.” However, Goldwater discovered that the district was, in fact, in possession of responsive records at the time of the request. On two separate occasions, Aug. 27, 2020, and Sept. 10, 2020, Wildman emailed board meeting minutes to all members of the school committee and other school district officials, including Superintendent Savastano. So not only did the district keep these meetings behind closed doors in violation of the Open Meetings Act, but it also misled the public about possessing records that the public is entitled to see, further eroding trust in the district.

The public’s business should be open to the public—especially when it comes to the important work of educating students. That’s why Goldwater is working nationwide to shine a light on what’s happening in public school districts.

Goldwater’s landmark Academic Transparency law requires public schools to post their learning materials online, and the Institute’s Ask Your School Now tool empowers parents to file effective public records requests when the government still tries keeping secrets. Moreover, Goldwater’s American Freedom Network of pro bono attorneys stands ready to help parents in every state access the information they’re entitled to.

This case will make clear that it is unacceptable for school districts to make decisions about children’s education behind closed doors, without parental consent and involvement.

If you are interested in putting your legal skills and experience to practice in defense of liberty and would like to work on cases like this one as part of the Goldwater’s Institute’s American Freedom Network, please visit this page or contact Kamron Kompani at

Kamron Kompani is the Legal Programs Manager at the Goldwater Institute.



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