Connecticut’s attorney general opened a civil rights investigation Thursday into the hiring practices of Greenwich education officials following the release of what is described as a secretly recorded video in which an assistant principal claimed to screen teacher candidates by their age and religion.
Attorney General William Tong made the announcement during a televised press conference held in a state office building.
“Today, as attorney general, I’m invoking my civil rights enforcement authority to investigate any potentially illegal discrimination or other actionable misconduct related to that video,” Tong said. “Discrimination, hate, bigotry against any person and against any religion or on the basis of age or otherwise is reprehensible and wrong.”
The video in question was captured secretly by members of Project Veritas, a discredited far-right group founded by James O’Keefe in 2010. It depicts Jeremy Boland, an assistant principal who has since been suspended by education officials in Greenwich.
O’Keefe agrees to fork over $100K:
Over the course of the edited, 12-minute video, Boland appears in a restaurant or bar and tells an unnamed and offscreen woman that he favored progressive teachers and preferred not to hire Catholic educators.
When asked why, Boland said that people who are raised “hardcore Catholic, it’s like they’re brainwashed. You can never change their mindset.”
The video provoked a flurry of condemnation from state officials on both sides of the aisle Wednesday. During Thursday’s press conference, Tong called it “disturbing.”
Tong, a Democrat, told reporters the investigation would be conducted thoroughly and without regard for this year’s campaign season.
“I do not play politics with my enforcement authority and I do not play politics with civil rights investigations and I definitely do not play politics with schools, kids in schools or teachers and students and families,” Tong said. “That means I’m going to run this investigation by the book and according to our standard and regular procedure for investigations. I will not rush to judgment.”
Hours before Tong’s announcement, Republican legislative leaders called on Tong to begin an investigation at an unrelated news conference. House Minority Leader said Tong fought hard for legislation allowing his office to investigate civil rights violations despite concerns among some lawmakers the authority represented an overreach.
“We need to make sure that this isn’t systemic,” Candelora said. “What was concerning to me watching that video, it’s not only just about discrimination but there was a pattern it seemed and a purpose for that discrimination and when we hear parents crying out for more control over their childrens’ education and concerns about indoctrination, it’s videos like that that only fuel that fire.”
Tong encouraged potential victims of discrimination to reach out to his office.
“If anyone believes they’ve been a victim of discrimination at a school in Greenwich or elsewhere, I want to know,” he said. “You can report it to me at 860-808-5410 or on our website at ct.gov.”