In an August 4th email obtained by Indian River News, from Indian River County Education Association (IRCEA) President, Jennifer Freeland, to the union membership, Freeland directed teachers, “IRCEA is recommending that teachers NOT fill out or submit any forms regarding classroom libraries. We also recommend that teachers do NOT allow students access to classroom libraries at this time.” The emboldened emphasis was made by Freeland.
Moms for Liberty – Indian River president, Jennifer Pippin, brought up the email at the October 24, 2022 School Board meeting during the public comment. In her statement, Pippin said, “I find it disturbing how Governor Ron DeSantis and Moms for Liberty were blamed for classroom libraries being closed when it was clearly the union.”
Pippin further remarked, “Moms for Liberty sent an email to the district shortly after this misinformation was discovered and offered to volunteer to help get these classroom libraries open for children. There has been no response from the district.”
It is not the first time SDIRC has refused sincere help. In September this year, the District refused the volunteer distribution of pocket sized publications of the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution to 8th graders paid for by the non-profit 917 Society. Pippin was volunteering as a distributor of a couple thousand publications at her expense. The 917 Society engaged 29 counties in the state of Florida and only the School District of Indian River County refused the offering to celebrate US Constitution Day on September 17, 2022.
Since the passing of HR 1467, Parental Rights in Education, there has been a progressive push to blame Moms for Liberty, and by extension, Governor DeSantis for preventing access to libraries at schools, or for teachers to curate one for their classroom.
In Indian River County, the classroom controversy was highlighted on September 16th when the TC Palm’s editor Laurence Reisman, wrote about how he “doubted it was real” when he discovered the picture of the classroom library shelves labeled with signs, “The Library is Closed.” The classroom library consisting of four bookcases was cordoned off with gargantuan, pink taped strips making a wide X on each bookcase, and, all the books turned around so their spines faced the shelf interior. It was allegedly done by the unnamed teacher who was in charge of that classroom at Storm Grove Middle School.
The picture was taken by a parent named Angela Love which she posted to her Facebook page “Angela Love Midwife” on September 14th at 7:38 PM. Love was attending a back to school night. Love described the unnamed teacher to Reisman as “tearing up” over her concerns about her library.
A licensed midwife and progressive advocate for abortion rights, Love has also taken a special interest in the current book issue at our schools. She frequently posts about the library book issue. Love asked if anyone has read the Handmaid’s Tale on an October 24 post to her page. In the schools, nobody has had a chance to read it because Board Chair, Teri Barenborg, has had the book in her possession since April. Pippin and board member, Jackie Rosario, have requested the book many times to verify it’s content, but Barenborg refuses to turn it over.
In his opinion piece, Reisman stated, “It took a while to get ahold of Angela Love, a Vero Beach woman who confirmed she took the picture Wednesday during orientation at Storm Grove Middle School and posted it on her social media account.” That Reisman was able to publish a full account inside of 48 hours for distribution is not “a while” in newsroom parlance. At most, Reisman followed-up rather casually, September 15 or 16th. That is fast for a columnist and most experienced news people are usually waiting on some further evidence to bolster claims.
Freeland was also reached for comment in this tight time frame. Reisman wrote, “‘Quite frankly, teachers are afraid,’ said Indian River County Education Association President Jennifer Freeland, who, along with district officials, knew about the classroom at Storm Grove.”
It is now known that the reason Freeland knew of this demonstration of fear was because she directed it. In an interview with IRN, Pippin commented, “I have received messages from teachers or their spouses who are fearful of retaliation if they were to come forward [against the union].”
Reisman’s editorial page has endorsed Gibbs over incumbent Jackie Rosario citing her having more experience, in spite of the fact that Rosario has been in Education longer than Gibbs, and, has held teaching, administrative and elected positions. Reisman was recently exposed stating falsehoods about endorsements of the Governor and describing Rosario as having “a [weak] resume,” though she has nearly thirty years and three masters degrees. He wrote these things on August 24th to set his own narrative about the primary election results.
Freeland gave the union endorsement to Gibbs and Barenborg without interviewing any of the opposing candidates in the races for district 2 and district 4. Freeland even attempted to have Barenborg and Gibbs meet the union membership on August 18th at Sharky’s Cafe on campus at Sebastian River HS. In an email dated August 15th, 11 days after the library directive, Freeland sent an invitation email to Gibbs and Barenborg. She offered each candidate “10-15 minutes to use as you would like, very informal town hall style.” That meeting was ultimately cancelled when it was brought to Freeland’s attention that you cannot use school property for campaign events.
Love also vocally supported Cindy Gibbs for School Board with an endorsement on her company letterhead and has been an active voice in her campaign. Gibbs published her endorsement on July 15th to her candidate Facebook page. Two days after Reisman published, We the People Indian River County discovered the very proud endorsement of Love for Gibbs and the cross-posting to Gibbs for School Board on Facebo.
In the mind of this citizen reporter, the questions are, “did Reisman know? And, did he and Freeland need a third person, other than a teacher, to take the picture and set the narrative?” In the light of this August 4th email, it seems to verify the conspiracy. However, do not expect Freeland, Reisman or Love to admit it.
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