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Connecticut’s Attorney General launches civil rights investigation into Greenwich school video

220831_Tong_Frontier_DW
Dave Wurtzel
/
File / Connecticut Public
Greenwich Public Schools have become the target of a civil rights investigation by Attorney General William Tong (above) after a viral video appeared to show an assistant principal saying he won’t hire conservative teachers.

Attorney General William Tong announced Thursday that his office is opening a civil rights investigation into Greenwich Public Schools. The investigation comes after a viral video appeared to show an assistant principal saying he won’t hire conservative teachers.

The video appeared to be recorded secretly by the conservative group Project Veritas. The assistant principal of Cos Cob School, Jeremy Boland, has been put on administrative leave, as reported by CT Mirror.

Tong said he invoked his civil rights enforcement authority to investigate any potentially illegal discrimination or misconduct related to the video.

“The video is disturbing, and if teachers, school staff, or applicants for education jobs have been illegally discriminated against for any reason, I will take action,” Tong said, in an emailed statement.

He said his office won’t do anything different because of the political season.

“I am going to run this investigation by the book and according to our standard procedure for investigations,” Tong said. “We will conduct a thorough investigation, and review and analyze all the evidence. This will not happen overnight. We will get to the bottom of this and hold accountable anyone engaged in actionable misconduct.”

Bilal Sekou, a University of Hartford politics and government associate professor, said the assistant principal’s apparent comments against hiring conservatives, Catholics and older applicants are clearly indefensible.

“In no way should someone’s political affiliations or religious beliefs become a basis for making a determination about whether you should hire them or not,” Sekou said.

However, because the comments and the apparently secretly recorded video are out there, they serve as the latest sign of a divisive cultural battle over race, religion, gender and sexuality that some voters want to fight about.

“Because they think there is bias in the media, there is bias in the schools,” Sekou said. “For a segment of the population, that resonates as an argument with what’s going wrong in their minds with our country at this time.”

Sekou references the larger context of what’s happening across the nation, including parents getting involved with banning school library books, school board officials questioning what’s being taught in classrooms, and traditionally marginalized groups starting to stand up and speak out.

“We have a lot of history about our country that has never been fully taught or acknowledged, so people are demanding it to be taught and acknowledged. But a lot of people are uncomfortable with that thought,” he said.

Sekou said expects to see more divisive incidents like this heading into November’s elections.

“These incidents animate people who believe it’s a problem,” Sekou said. “We will likely see more people raising similar issues. Whether Connecticut residents will bite and actually make this a central issue in our state politics — I don’t imagine that to be so, but this kind of conversation will continue.”

Connecticut Public Radio has reached out to Greenwich Public Schools for comment but has not heard back.

Catherine Shen is a Connecticut Public’s education reporter. The Los Angeles native comes to CT Public after a decade of print and digital reporting across the country.