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A Rhode Island teacher sent an email which contained “threatening” language to a student amid his activism against “de-leveling,” according to parents who spoke out in a local paper.
“De-leveling” is an equity agenda the Barrington, R.I., district implemented which removed some honors and conceptual classes for students with special educational needs. The move enraged parents enough to generate community activism against the change.
“When you first read… the email it appears that he is trying to say that [name redacted] did something criminal,” the parents said.
Barrington High School teacher Kevin Blanchard told the student in an April email to “watch your back” and accused the student active against de-leveling of “invading my classroom space” with “methods that verge on the criminal,” according to the article.
“I do take offense to you invading my classroom space. Your passion is noted but your methods verge on the criminal,” the email said, according to the local paper. “Hope you have a good weekend and watch your back.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Blanchard for comment but did not receive a response.
“A teacher in a position of power was using this type of language with a student and he was foolish enough to put it in an email… This type of threatening and intimidating language is never a good idea,” the parents’ article said.
The subject of Blanchard’s email was “Survey and announcement.” Days earlier, the Barrington student spoke out against de-leveling at a school board meeting and organized a feedback survey for his classmates on their views on the “de-leveling” equity agenda, the article said.
The Van Ness family said they requested the removal of their son from Blanchard’s high school English class after the email was sent.
“We want to know what Mr. Blanchard’s punishment would be, if any. [Principal] Hurley told us that he could not tell us because it was a personal matter,” the article said.
Fox News Digital asked the district whether any action was taken regarding the incident but did not receive a response.
Blanchard, who was also head of the English department, supported implementing de-leveling in the district, according to emails from a public record request reviewed by Fox News Digital.
De-leveling, or a system of universal learning, was first implemented in Barrington for the most vulnerable students—the students with learning disabilities and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
“If you have an opportunity tonight, could you please share with me your thoughts on how these tools may best serve our students’ UDL (universal design for learning) needs… your ‘seal of approval’ would be certainly welcome for my goals,” the English teacher said in an email to Katie Novak, a consultant the school district hired to help implement an equity agenda, in September 2020.
In February 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school removed some conceptual classes. On the whole, parents of children in those classes were reluctant to speak out because they ran the risk of “outing” their child as having a disability or needing special accommodation.
A mom whose daughter attended the removed conceptual classes previously told Fox News Digital that de-leveling has caused her daughter’s grades to decline. The mother requested anonymity in order to protect her daughter’s identity.
“I don’t think I would ever be a fan of de-leveling, but the timing [to implement it during COVID] is what makes it very suspicious to me. So it just felt like it was an easy way for them to get their agenda through without pushback because people were so busy dealing with other stuff,” she told Fox News Digital.
Blanchard also suggested in an email that the school should bring “de-leveling” beyond the English department and to other classes, such as “social studies and science.”
Bill Jacobson, a long-time Barrington resident and founder of Legal Insurrection, said, “De-leveling is part of an agenda of equalizing outcomes.”
“This equal-results approach stems from critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion, which posit that unequal outcomes are the result of systemic bias and discrimination. ‘Equity’ in particular is the codeword for bringing high achievers down to equalize outcomes,” Jacobson said. “‘Equity’ has become an unhealthy obsession, and parents are seeing the impact.”