WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Westerly Public School officials are asking for nearly $9,300 before complying with high-volume public records requests involving racial issues.
Target 12 first broke the news Tuesday that the district had become the third in the state to receive such a request.
Westerly resident Bob Chiaradio submitted an 11-item request on May 27, telling Target 12 he made the request because he suspected the district’s schools are teaching critical race theory — an academic approach that argues the legacy of slavery and discrimination against Blacks is embedded in American institutions.
Chiaradio’s filing seeks things like administration and teacher emails mentioning “white privilege,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “the 1619 Project,” textbook materials and information about the district’s implicit bias trainings.
Westerly superintendent Mark Garceau responded to the request Thursday, detailing why the request would require roughly 620 hours to complete – at a statutory rate of $15 per hour – and asking for $9,285 before compiling the requested information.
“It’s a number that’s thrown out there to scare me, to try to intimidate me, to make me go away,” Chiaradio told Target 12. “And that’s just not going to happen”.
Chiaradio wouldn’t say if he’ll pay the fee, explaining that he wrote back to the superintendent with clarification questions and expects the cost to decrease.
Superintendent Garceau declined an interview request but sent Target 12 a Facebook post Chiaradio wrote yesterday.
It reads in part “In Westerly, a gutless, lying superintendent, a radical, BLM flag-waving assistant superintendent… and a group of extreme leftist, Marxist instructors, has placed our children in harm’s way.”
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Chiaradio confirmed to Target 12 that he wrote the post.
“Absolutely it’s me,” he said. “And it’s interesting, because that’s from a private Facebook page.”
In addition to sending Chiaradio’s Facebook post, Garceau wrote in a statement: “We choose not to amplify this person’s ‘perspective.’ He has presented no evidence whatsoever to support any such claims.”
The superintendent’s response to the records request state that, if payment is made, the information requested will be delivered on July 13.