Frequently Searched

Victory in Mother’s Fight Against School District’s Lies

May 3, 2024

Imagine a mother getting ready to send her daughter to kindergarten. She asks the school for information about the curriculum planned for her little one, but the school stonewalls her. So, the mom tries again, and the school responds by demanding $74,000 in public records fees to access the information. Then the nation’s largest teachers union sues the mom for filing those records requests, even though that’s what school officials had asked her to do.

That’s the shocking backdrop of Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas’ latest battle for transparency—this time involving the South Kingstown School District’s decision to first withhold records from Nicole and then bar her 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.

Nicole wasn’t about to back down—and as attorneys with the Goldwater Institute’s American Freedom Network of pro bono attorneys, we were honored to stand up for her rights and take the school district to court over its violations of Rhode Island’s Public Records Law and Open Meetings Act.

This week, we won.

In today’s politically charged environment, where schools around the country are turning their classrooms into breeding grounds for bias and discrimination, Nicole wanted to know if she was sending her daughter into a den of Critical Race Theory, gender identity, hate, and racial bias. And for good reason: In 2020, the South Kingstown School Committee established the BIPOC Advisory Board to determine if school district policies did not promote “inclusivity” and “equity,” for a more “inclusive and antiracist” district. After the board denied Nicole’s requests to open the meetings to the public, she sought transparency though Rhode Island’s public records law—only for the district to deny the very existence of public records regarding the board meetings when officials had those records in their possession.

Earlier this year, we filed a lawsuit on Nicole’s behalf, demanding production of these records and a civil fine against school officials for their knowing and willful violation of state public records law.

On Monday, Rhode Island Superior Court Justice Joseph McBurney approved a consent judgment with the district to “provide Plaintiff with copies of the responsive records forthwith and at no cost to Plaintiff.” The court also approved the parties’ consent for the school district to pay attorney’s fees, as well as a civil fine against the school district.

But it should never have had to come to this. Schools have a legal duty to comply with state public records laws as well as to inform parents what they are teaching their children; and parents have an absolute right and obligation to be involved in their children’s education.

We know firsthand how crucial it is to protect our children from elicit, unfounded, and biased instruction. Like Nicole, we teach our children that the color of someone’s skin should not weigh into the equation of how we treat other people.

The public education establishment is continuing to wage war on parents—but brave moms and dads like Nicole aren’t backing down, and neither are we.  After all, school district policies that conceal important information about school operations from parents and the broader public must be challenged.

We are humbled by Nicole’s resilience and tenacity, and we look forward to finally receiving the simple information she requested three years ago. Let this serve as an example for our children’s schools everywhere; the good guys aren’t backing down, and we’re going to win the fight for America’s future.

To learn more about Nicole’s story, you can click here. For more on Goldwater’s efforts to promote Academic Transparency, click here.

Greg Piccirilli and Kevin McCaffrey are Rhode Island-based attorneys, and members of Goldwater Institute’s American Freedom Network. They represented Nicole in her public records lawsuit against the school district.



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.