South Kingstown parents angered by political mailers sent directly to students

South County

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Parents expressed their frustration with the South Kingstown School Committee Thursday regarding political mailers that were sent directly to students last week.

The mailers, which were sent by the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, support an $85 million school infrastructure bond, which voters overwhelmingly rejected earlier this week, and were directly addressed to South Kingstown students.

The committee held a special meeting Thursday to discuss the mailers and hear parents’ concerns. Several parents have told 12 News the mailers were addressed to children as young as 5 years old.

Diana Proestou said her third-grader received one of the mailers. She said while she’s used to receiving mailers like this one, the fact it was addressed to her son crossed the line.

“I had recieved so many in the past that I was kind of ready to chuck it in the trash,” Proestou said. “I had a look and I noticed right away it was addressed to my son and not to me.”

“I don’t know how they got that information,” she continued.

Paula Bradley’s child also received one of the mailers. She called the situation frustrating.

“I would like to know exactly what information was shared,” Bradley said. “I would like to know who it was shared with.”

The South Kingstown Town Council has called upon the town solicitor to investigate the mailers and how the labor union got ahold of students’ names and addresses.

The investigation into the mailers began on Monday, one councilor said during Thursday’s meeting.

The attorney representing the school department previously told parents the district’s rules allow the sharing of so-called “directory information,” and parents have the choice whether to opt out.

The school district explained that, even though sharing directory information is legal, they don’t have a request for it from the labor union.

“When you look at what they consider ‘directory information,’ that includes date of birth,” Bradley said. “So, was this just a name and address or was it more than that? Because, if it was more than that, there are actions I need to take as a parent to secure my child’s identity.”

12 News reached out to the Rhode Island AFL-CIO for a comment, but has not yet heard back.

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