Connecticut AG opens probe into school official's comments

·3 min read

Connecticut's attorney general said Thursday he will investigate any “potentially illegal discrimination” recorded in a viral video of a public elementary school assistant principal saying he'd prefer not to hire older and politically conservative staff, including Roman Catholics.

William Tong said his office plans to examine the video's content and circumstances, doing so under its new authority to enforce civil rights that was granted last year by the General Assembly. The Democrat promised to take action if the investigation determines that any teachers, school staff or job applicants were illegally discriminated against for any reason.

The announcement marks the third investigation so far concerning the 12-minute video of the assistant principal. Besides a probe by Greenwich Public Schools, the state Department of Education is looking into whether the school administrator violated rules of professional conduct, state laws or regulations. If proven, his certification could be suspended or revoke.

Tong called the comments in the video both “disturbing” and “troubling,” but stressed that he would not rush to judgement, promising to run the investigation “by the book.” Tong, who is himself running for reelection in November, noted the political nature of the case and how the video — apparently secretly recorded this summer by Project Veritas, a conservative group known for using undercover methods to reveal supposed liberal bias — was released in the middle of an election season.

Anyone who believes they were a victim of discrimination at Cos Cob Elementary School or elsewhere is urged to file a complaint with the state attorney general's office. Under the 2021 state law, those who are found to have committed a hate crime or a civil rights violation can face a civil penalty of up to $2,500.

Victims of employment discrimination in Connecticut are also able to file a complaint with the state's Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

The assistant principal, identified by Project Veritas as Jeremy Boland, has been placed on administrative suspension. A message was sent to Boland's work email seeking comment Thursday.

In the 12-minute video, Boland is seen speaking with a woman at various locations about how he tires not to hire politically conservative staff, people older than 30, and Roman Catholics. When asked why he didn't want to hire Catholics, he says if someone is “raised a hardcore Catholic, it's like they're brainwashed. You can never change their mindset.”

He also talks about how “more progressive teachers” are “savvy” about “delivering a Democratic message” to students without having to reveal their personal political preferences.

The comments have sparked bipartisan condemnation, including from Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, who has lived in Greenwich for about 30 years and said the views are “not aligned with our Connecticut values.” Leora Levy, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, organized a news conference in Greenwich on Wednesday evening. Appearing with other Republicans, as well as the founder of Project Veritas, she demanded “transparency and accountability in Connecticut public schools" and an investigation into discrimination and the “indoctrination of our children."

Susan Haigh, The Associated Press