This article has been updated to clarify the committee’s decision on whether to ask the courts to intervene.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The South Kingstown School Committee claims a woman has filed an “overwhelming” number of public records requests.
South Kingstown School Committee Chairwoman Emily Cummiskey said Nicole Solas has filed more than 200 public records requests using the state’s open records law over the past several weeks.
The committee met Wednesday night to discuss whether to ask the courts to intervene. Prior to the meeting, Cummiskey posted on her professional Facebook page and claimed that the problem spans far beyond them being inundated with requests.
She called the requests “a disturbing attempt by a nationally-organized, racist group to create chaos and intimidate our district in recent weeks as we discuss bringing equity and anti-racism curriculum to our schools.”
Cummiskey claimed Solas, who does not currently have any children enrolled in South Kingstown Public Schools, has been directly linked to that group, which she did not identify.
She said it’s “extremely disheartening” that Solas is “trying to send a message to our students and families that anti-racism education is not valued.”
Cummiskey said the school committee has been working diligently to answer all of her requests, but what Solas is asking for requires hundreds of hours of the district’s time to complete.
“Each request pulls staff hours away from our school priorities, on top of requiring expensive hourly legal fees for each review,” Cummiskey said. “This is an overwhelming burden that is unsustainable for our district, and an irresponsible spend of taxpayer dollars.”
Solas was the first to speak during public comment at Wednesday night’s meeting. She explained her child isn’t currently enrolled in South Kingstown Public Schools, but will be as a kindergartener come fall.
“You told me to submit a public records request to answer my questions,” Solas told the committee. “I did what you told me, and now you are holding a public meeting to discuss suing me for doing what you told me to do.”
“This meeting was meant to publicly humiliate me,” she continued. “It didn’t work.”
Solas claims the school committee is “obsessed with treating students based on their skin color,” and should be focusing their attention elsewhere.
“The school committee should focus on equality, treating students without regard to race,” Solas said. “We need answers, not lawsuits against parents.”
12 News reached out to Steven Brown, the executive director of the ACLU of Rhode Island, regarding the situation.
While he appreciates the district’s concern about the burdens that come with responding to all of those requests, Brown said he doesn’t think suing Solas is the appropriate response.
The committee ultimately voted against asking the courts to intervene, and instead will attempt to mediate the issue.