Shortly after California parents successfully sued to reopen schools after Covid-inspired lockdowns, a teacher's union set out to conduct opposition research on the parent group, accidentally copying a high school principal to the email chain.
In March of last year, a judge ruled in favor of the North County, San Diego parents who sued the state for unfairly prohibiting local school districts from reopening. The next month, Ann Swinburn, a strategic research specialist with California Teachers Association (CTA), asked pro-lockdown activists for information regarding the "various 'reopen' groups around the state."
In emails obtained by the Parent Association via open-records requests and shared in tweets by Reopen California Schools, Swinburn asked an activist parent arm of the local union about the "ideological leaning of groups that are funding the reopen lawsuits."
Swinburn specifically expressed interest in the Parent Association, which states that "Parents are the best advocates for students," and strongly advocated for the reopening of schools to get secure a more solid education for their children.
As noted by Reopen California Schools, another anti-lockdown group, unions sued the San Dieguito Union High School District to keep schools closed nearly a year into the pandemic, but it was parents in North County who "successfully sued" to open schools in the spring of 2021.
Unfortunately for the pro-lockdown activists, someone accidentally copied Adam Camacho, the then-principal of San Dieguito Academy High School in their communication.
The email thread quickly turned into a conversation about "damage control" and whether they could ask the principal to illegally delete any evidence that parents were being targeted for wanting their children to learn in person.
Archived tweets from Swinburn's now-deleted Twitter account show the researcher's extreme distaste for parents who wanted the schools to reopen, where she displayed the opinion that the parent groups were "an effort orchestrated by seasoned right-wing political operatives."
Parent Association co-founder and director of San Dieguito Union High School District Allison Stratton told The Federalist that the activists contacted by Swinburn are well-known for catering to teachers unions wanting to keep kids at home by working with the California Public Department of Health.
"[The unions] don't want to see parents organizing against them," Stratton, who is also one of the parents who signed onto the reopen lawsuit said. "They have their union shills, the groups that they're used to working with. In fact, I believe it's straight out of their playbook that they tell their local unions to find like-minded parents to do a lot of their work for them. They call them out of the PTAs, usually."
It's been over a year since Swinburn emailed with activists and attempted to cover it up, but Stratton said the CTA's pawns haven't quit pushing the unions' agenda in schools.
"Now their game is to drive independent trustees off the board," Stratton explained, pointing to the coordinated effort to recall Trustee Michael Allman over allegations of transphobia.
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