Connecticut Attorney General William Tong
File photo of Connecticut Attorney General William Tong speaking to reporters in 2022. Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

A year-long investigation into the hiring practices of Greenwich public schools turned up no evidence of discrimination by a former education official who was the subject of a secretly recorded Project Veritas video, Attorney General William Tong announced Friday.

Tong’s office opened the civil rights investigation last September after an edited video by the far-right non-profit group depicted former Cos Cob School Assistant Principal Jeremy Boland apparently telling an offscreen woman he preferred to hire progressive teachers over Catholic educators. 

The attorney general closed the investigation last week after reviewing more than 61,000 Greenwich Public Schools documents and interviewing 33 witnesses, including Boland, who resigned from the district in June.

“We determined that Mr. Boland was never in position to make hiring or other employment decisions independently,” Tong wrote in a letter to the city’s superintendent. “He never had independent hiring authority. He was never the only administrator who screened applicants for any position. And he was never the only vote on a search committee that hired or rejected a candidate.”

Greenwich officials suspended Boland last year after the publication of the Project Veritas video. Over the course of the edited, 12-minute video Boland appeared in a restaurant or bar, describing discriminatory hiring practices to an unnamed woman who never appeared on camera. At one point, he told her that people who are raised “hardcore Catholic, it’s like they’re brainwashed. You can never change their mindset.”

Tong’s letter described Boland’s comments as “wrong and offensive.” According to the letter, Boland did not minimize the comments in an interview with investigators.

“[Boland] admits that the Project Veritas recordings accurately represent his words,” Tong wrote. “He maintains that he made the comments to curry favor with a woman whom he met on a dating app and whom he believed to be a possible romantic connection. But he denies that he illegally or inappropriately discriminated against any applicant or worker. We found no evidence to the contrary.”

Founded in 2010 by conservative activist James O’Keefe, Project Veritas has long been criticized for its use of secretly recorded and heavily edited videos in an effort to entrap and discredit public figures and members of the media. 

Last year, the group declined a request by the Office of the Attorney General to produce an unedited version of the video for review. According to Friday’s letter, the group also declined to provide the name and contact information of the woman who apparently recorded it. 

Project Veritas fired O’Keefe as CEO earlier this year and he has recently been under investigation by a New York prosecutor for allegations that he misspent donations to the group on personal luxuries, according to the Associated Press

Tong’s investigation into Boland’s hiring conduct concluded that despite his comments in the edited video, he never asked inappropriate questions during hiring interviews or attempted to influence others to make hiring decisions based on an inappropriate basis. 

Tong thanked Greenwich school administrators for cooperating with the investigation and for their “sincere desire to thoroughly investigate and root out any wrongdoing.” 

“Again, the Office of the Attorney General stands ready to protect the civil rights of Connecticut residents,” Tong wrote. “We will respond to patterns and practices of civil rights violations with investigations and litigation wherever warranted. We find no evidence of actionable violations here.”