New documents have revealed that Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only met with parents one time in the lead-up to the release of the agency's school reopening guidance last year, with those "parents" in attendance at that meeting being predominantly leftist activists, including the founder of a transgender advocacy group.
The meeting, which was held up as a solid example of the CDC consulting parents prior to the release of the guidelines for reopening K-12 schools following the Covid lockdowns, was actually a private roundtable that featured several heads of Democrat-funded organizations, according to documents provided to Fox News by nonpartisan watchdog group Americans for Public Trust (APT).
Following criticism sparked by the CDC meeting with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) before meeting with parents about school reopenings, the teacher's union president, Randi Weingarten, argued that the CDC met with parents as well, citing Walensky's meeting.
The documents, obtained by APT via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CDC, revealed that Walensky's Feb. 10, 2021 roundtable, which was held just two days before the rollout of the guidance, included just five people.
According to a Fox News report on the documents, the meeting included Roz Keith, the founder and executive director of Stand With Trans, an organization for parents of transgender-identified children.
"We are committed to dismantling the barriers faced by our community based on racism, sexism, queer-antagonism, and other discriminatory factors," the group's website states. "These barriers include recent legislation like denying trans people from using the bathroom of their gender, barring trans people from participating in sports of their gender, and banning schools from teaching about LGBTQ acceptance."
Representatives from the progressive organization MomsRising were also in attendance, with executive director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, along with affiliate Angelica Gonzalez, joining Walensky's roundtable.
According to the organization's website, MomsRising is about "educating the public and mobilizing massive grassroots actions" for liberal causes, including "fighting white supremacy."
The organization is financed by large Democratic donors, including $1 million from George Soros' Open Society Policy Center, and another $1 million from Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss' Berger Action Fund in 2020, reported Fox News.
Yet another participant in Walensky's roundtable was Elena Hung, the national co-chair of Health Care Voter, which collects donations to fight back against "Republicans trying to abolish the Affordable Care Act and eliminate vital protections that we rely on."
Hung's organization is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a progressive lobby group administered by Arabella Advisors, a Washington, DC-based philanthropy firm that funds left-wing causes. Multiple left-leaning outlets have credited the Sixteen Thirty Fund with helping the Democrats pull ahead of Republicans in untraceable political spending, with the Atlantic calling the group "the indisputable heavyweight of Democratic dark money."
The last parent at Walensky's meeting was self-described "activist" Rabbi Rachel Kobrin.
The CDC director's press secretary, Jason McDonald, told Fox News that Walensky and other CDC scientists "attended dozen of engagements with a diverse range of groups and advocacy organizations ahead of the release of the COVID-19 schools guidance," including meeting with parents at "three, national PTA-hosted events on August 7, 2020, January 4, 2021, and February 12, 2021, where parents could ask CDC experts questions about the guidance and how to keep their children safe at school."
At a Feb. 12, 2021 press conference on the release of the school reopening guidelines, Walensky stressed the importance of considering parents' "lived experiences, challenges, and perspectives," and claimed that the CDC was working "to hear firsthand from parents."
In a statement to NBC News that same day, Walensky again claimed that CDC officials reached out to parents when putting together the guidance.
"The latest guidance is based on science and outreach with teachers, parents and the Department of Education," Walensky said.
Despite her claims of including parents in the decision-making process, Waleknsky's internal calendar reportedly indicates that her only meeting with parents was the one she held with the left-wing activists.
The 30-minute Zoom call allocated three minutes to each participant to "introduce themselves and discuss their needs for safe school reopening," the schedule shows.
The day before the public release of the guidance, the AFT's senior director of health issues, Kelly Trautner, emailed Walensky to request that the guidance include: "In the event high-community transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary."
The next day, CDC chief of staff Sherri Berger flagged Trautner's request for "possible follow-ups."
Walensky then forwarded the email to Henry Walke, the agency's director of preparedness and emerging infections, who responded with "Yes, will work with team." Walke then sent Walensky updated language to be included in the guidance.
Along with a message of gratitude for their input, the AFT and National Education Association, the country's largest teacher's union, both received a copy of the guidance before it was made public.
According to the New York Post, suggestions from the AFT were "adopted nearly verbatim" in official CDC documents on reopening schools in at least two instances.
"Since taking the reins of the CDC, Dr. Walensky has prioritized everything but following the science," Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of Americans for Public Trust, said to Fox News.
"First, she colluded with the teachers unions to keep our schools closed, and now we learn that her 'parent' meeting was nothing more than placating the demands of liberal activists from dark money groups," Sutherland continued, before adding, "Maybe if the CDC spent less time appeasing activists and unions, kids could have returned to school faster and wouldn't be facing devastating losses in learning."
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