UPDATE: Via Support Jeffco Kids–in response to today’s video from Julie Williams, a Colorado Open Records Act request was filed seeking more information about this alleged incident of her son, a special needs student at Standley Lake High School, being made to participate in a protest against his mother. In response, Jefferson County Schools confirmed that the alleged incident was reported by Williams to have occurred in September of 2014–many months before the recall campaign ever began.
And then they confirmed something else–there’s no evidence it ever happened. From the investigation report obtained in today’s CORA request:
On September 24th, 2014, I received an email from Dan McMinimee that attorney Brad Miller was asked to reach out to me by Board Member Juie Williams. Ms. Williams had informed Mr. Miller that her son, a special needs student was used as a “prop” to carry a protest sign during a parade at Standley Lake High School.
I spoke to Mr. Miller who provided a date of September 8th, 2014 as the date the incident occurred on. I assigned the video surveillance review to Manager of Security Operations Bill Kitamura and then contacted SLHS Principal Jeff Pierson and discussed the allegations. Principal Pierson was adamant that neither a parade nor protect occurred at or in the school. [Pols emphasis]
Bill Kitamura and an emergency dispatcher together reviewed 30 hours of video from 15 cameras for the September 8th, the date that was provided to us. Nothing was found to indicate a parade or protest during this time period.
Here’s the full letter. According to investigators, Williams then suggested other days the incident could have occurred. In response to those suggestions, school security officials reviewed a total of 240 hours of video, and were “unable to substantiate that such an event had occurred.” The investigation was then closed.
And with that, Williams’ exploitation of her disabled son in this emotionally manipulative video becomes a deeply troubling thing. Original post follows.
This morning, the right-wing Independence Institute released a new video spot featuring embattled Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams. In today’s video, Williams makes a tearful accusation involving her son Randy, who is identified in the video as a “special needs student.”
In this video, Julie Williams describes an incident where her son allegedly marched in a parade that included signs denouncing his mother. Interspersed with black-and-white shots of young Randy looking sad, Williams claims with tears welling in her eyes that the incident “has scarred him forever.”
For starters, the video doesn’t explain anything about when or where this alleged incident took place. Nothing is explained about the circumstances by which Williams’ son would have joined any pro-recall parade, or who might have asked him to do so. There’s not even a specific claim that Williams’ son held a pro-recall sign, only that he saw one, and that this apparently hurt the boy’s feelings. There is of course every possibility that Williams’ son might see pro-recall signage from time to time, like just about anybody who lives in Jefferson County today.
A 7NEWS report from over a year ago, while the controversy over Williams’ proposal to “review” the district’s AP U.S. History curriculum using politically-stilted criteria, may contain a description of the same incident–with far less acrimony:
Williams says her 16-year-old autistic son attends Standley Lake High School, where protests have occurred. Teachers have also picketed outside the school in recent weeks.
“I believe they’re picketing and targeting that specific school because he’s there and I’m his mom,” said Williams.
Williams said her son told her he participated in a “parade.”
“Are they forcing him to participate?” asked Haythorn.
“I don’t know what’s happening. I can’t imagine they would force him,” said Williams. [Pols emphasis] “But, he doesn’t understand what this is. He thinks it’s a parade. He was excited.”
Between then and now, Williams’ story has apparently “evolved” into something much more coercive? Since the recall campaign didn’t even start until school was out this summer, the timeline seems hard to reconcile. But either way, we can tell you with some degree of confidence that there is no photo of Randy Williams holding a anti-Julie Williams sign being circulated by recall proponents. And that’s good, because it would be in very poor taste. There would be absolutely no political value in doing something like that.
All we have is this video of Randy looking on sadly while Julie Williams makes a bunch of allegations that nobody can prove, and appear to contradict what she said a year ago. In a video released by the Independence Institute, whose director Jon Caldara has repeatedly and crassly exploited tragedy in order to join political leverage. In 2013, Caldara claimed the deadly Front Range floods “forced” him to “move back” to Boulder from Colorado Springs, helping him outmaneuver charges of election fraud. Before then, Caldara actually claimed Obamacare would result in his “losing another child”–a reference to one of his children who had tragically died of cancer years before.
Folks, if anything like what Williams vaguely alleges occurred in this video can be proved to have actually occurred–meaning that someone purposefully exploited Williams’ special needs son into marching against his mother–we would immediately join in condemning it.
Not only is there no evidence of that, the only “exploitation” we can see is Randy being exploited in this video. That leaves us disgusted, though not in the way Julie Williams and Jon Caldara intended.