June 8, 2021

Rhode Island Mom Might Be Sued for Asking School Curriculum Questions

  • Flyover Country

By: Konrad Holden

In Brief: 

When Nichole Solas wanted to see what the South Kingstown School District would be teaching her child this upcoming year, she talked to school officials and heard things that disturbed her. After putting in an Access to Public Records Act (ARPA) request to learn more, the school committee met to discuss legal action against Solas due to the size of her ARPA request.

The Background:

When Nichole Solas enrolled her daughter in kindergarten at the South Kingstown School District, she asked the principal how the school dealt with gender theory and antiracism. 

The principal replied that the school generally tries to avoid using gendered terminology, going as far as avoiding calling the children “boys and girls”.

After requesting a tour of the school (which she still has not received) and a copy of the curriculum, Solas was directed to submit an Access to Public Records Act (ARPA) Request. Solas submitted a request for the school’s curriculum and eventually received a partial curriculum.

But Solas had more questions. 

So she filed an ARPA complaint with the attorney general and then used the ARPA Request system to attempt to gain more information. The ARPA system initially required her to pay nearly $10,000 to complete her request.

Then on June 2, the school committee met to discuss “filing lawsuit against Nicole Solas to challenge filing of over 160 APRA requests.” That meeting ended with the school committee voting to direct their attorney to pursue mediation with Solas. 

The school committee meets again on June 8, but there are no items relating to Solas on the agenda.

Notable Quotes:

"I started using the APRA request google link on the school district’s website to request public documents that might answer my questions about CRT, gender theory, and other concerns. When I requested the emails of a school committee member the estimate of what they would charge me came back as $9,570. Who can afford that?" - Nichole Solas

"I can certainly understand the difficulties facing a municipal body when confronted with such a huge number of APRA requests in a short period of time. However, I am also hopeful that, upon consideration, the school committee will recognize that suing a resident for this activity is not an appropriate response." - Steve Brown, Rhode Island ACLU Executive Director
 

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