Soccer mom files complaint with Ventura Unified School District on alleged “Hitler/Trump” handwriting lecture
By George Miller
Nancy Hill, a Ventura, CA mother of four children, two of them in the Ventura Unified School District, has filed a complaint (shown below) with the District over alleged improprieties in a guest lecture delivered last month. The complaint further supports what was in our previous article and more.
This incident is nothing more than political indoctrination of students in a public school system comparable to a communist country. We are not a communist country! This will not be tolerated.– Nancy Hill
Recently, we reported a story of a well-regarded Ventura public school teacher, Laurie Curtis-Abbe, who brought in a guest lecturer, Sheila Lowe, on “graphology” (handwriting analysis to laymen like us). She presented what has been described as a highly questionable, politically biased lecture. It turns out that she’s been lecturing at Ms. Abbe’s classes since at least 2013 She presented in three classes at Anacapa Middle School this year, on 11-18-16, according to her posting on her blog. The problem is that this year, she allegedly went over the line in at least one classroom, delivering a presentation which multiple students say compared President-Elect Trump to Adolph Hitler and/or Heinrich Himmler, notorious perpetrators of the Third Reich and the Holocaust and even depicting them together. Even to show them together or mention them thusly would be highly suggestive and manipulative, as is this graphic below:
We spoke to Anacapa Middle School Principal Ms. Barbara Boggio about it and she did not deny the allegations nor did she really confirm them. She seemed very open to listening and dealing with it. We called the District Superintendent’s office, but were initially only able to get in contact with second-level assistants, who provided us with links to district policies and eventually put us in touch with the the Superintendent and his assistant, Martha Macias. Everyone up until that point had been extremely courteous, although Ms. Hill said that the Superintendent’s office was dismissive when she made the initial contact. The Supt. told me that is the “chain of command procedure,” but that may not have been explained to Ms. Hill. Ms. Hill said that the the school principal didn’t seem too concerned and even offered the services of the school psychologist. But her son is no “snowflake,” preferring to deal with it head-on rather than retreat.
We finally heard from the District Superintendent Michael Babb, who took a much harder line, describing our article as “not factual.” He even told me that the photos of Trump with Hitler we ran are “inflammatory.” He further informed me that “the adult in the room” (Abbe) had said she witnessed no pictures of Hitler or Himmler and that no comparisons were made to either of them vs. Donald Trump. However, multiple students say Lowe showed “overhead projector” images of handwriting samples and of the men. I had extended an offer to the Principal to run a statement in our original article, but she did not take us up on it. We reiterated that offer to Babb this week, also asking what corrective actions he planned to take and asking for a copy of the lesson plan/presentation materials. But we only received back more denials and a statement that he plans to do nothing because the article wasn’t “factual.” So he is stonewalling and denies that there is any problem at all warranting any corrective action. One of the parties is incorrect. Simi Valley political consultant and CA Political Review Editor Steve Frank wondered out loud if Superintendent Babb would also discount the complaints of a student claiming sexual assault or harassment.
Lecturer’s reaction to public reaction
Lecturer Lowe has expressed outrage on her Facebook page and elsewhere over the article, denying it and lashing out at critics, Trump supporters in general (“Trumpeteers” and worse) and CitizensJournal.us, even threatening legal action three times. It is a very partisan page, which is everyone’s right. It’s also everyone’s right to put it in one’s business communications as well, but perhaps not so wise. She wrote very biased “impressions” of the presidential candidates on her business web site, where she purports to offer objective analyses for legal proceedings, business, or personal uses. Frankly, we had been just a little skeptical of the students’ stories, until we found Lowe’s business site.
However, hundreds of people have expressed their outrage over the affair, as described in the article, on Facebook pages, web sites, email and even calls to district personnel. Last time we checked, the teacher had shut down her Facebook site. We heard from some people that the school district was hanging up on phone calls mentioning the incident. One said he was invited in to meet. A smaller number are not happy about the article. On Lowe’s Facebook page her friends rallied behind her, just as they do on pages of the political opposite. Lowe is an outspoken Liberal, judging from some postings we have seen.
Ms. Hill’s son appears to be very bright, a mostly “A” student, cross-country athlete and a political “junkie.” Under questioning with his mother at the table, he told a story that confirmed what his mother had told us over the phone. Other students have confirmed the story with him or his mother.
Political bias on campus
We have heard numerous accounts of political bias in the schools, not all in one direction, but few media reports of it. This case helped explain why. Of three classes of students who bore witness to this incident, only one student was sufficiently motivated to convince a parent and only one concerned parent initially did anything about it. Now, the story has “legs,” as they say in the business, because of just one person who got it started. Ms. Hill says she keeps a very low profile in the community (at least until now), was concerned about her son having to deal with the publicity and about her own notoriety as a result,. But this was just too much for her to ignore. She first discussed it extensively with him and a good friend who is a reader of this publication before approaching CitizensJournal.us. They also discussed it with some of the other students, who confirmed what happened. We have some materials detailing their observations and have been told that more would step forward to confirm what happened if needed. Here is one we received, with personal identification removed:
Date: December 5, 2016 at 9:29:59 PM PST
Subject: Re: shiela lowe : thank you!
My name is (redacted) anacapa middle school where i am in eighth grade gate language arts and history. At first when shiela came into our classroom i didn’t think anything of it and i saw her hillary pin and i figured that was ok because she was not pushing this belief upon us. When she first was talking i thought what she did was cool and that that was all she was going to talk about but then she pull up a slide that had a note written by hillary clinton and she had nothing but good things to say about her she then got to donald trump and said things about his writing that was illogical and she had obviously not just determined this from the writing in front of her. When i tried to reason with her by saying this writing looks intelligent she cut me off and would not let me go on and when someone else tried she the pulled up the slide with hitler’s right hand man (heinrich himmler) she compared his signature to heinrich himmler and talked about how it also looked like hitler’s writing. When she was talking about this it seemed like she wanted to convince us with this slide. This also explained the hillary pin.when she compared donald trump to adolph hitler i was very shocked at why she was even telling us this because i did not see the connection with adolph hitler and handwriting analysis it was very odd. I do not feel that this was planned by anyone but shiela lowe and feel that she should have assumed she was not to be be biased or that the mrs.abbe could have said something.
Here is Ms. Hill’s complaint:
From: Nancy Hill
Sent: Tue, Dec 6, 2016 9:17 pm
Subject: Uniform complaint on Anacapa Middle School Guest Lecturer Sheila Lowe 11/18/16
Kristin Mayville, Compliance Officer, Ventura Unified School District
Dr. Michael Babb, Ed.D, Superintendent, Ventura Unified School District
Barbara Fitzgerald, Board of Directors, Ventura Unified School District
Debbie Golden, Board of Directors, Ventura Unified School District
Mary Haffner, Board of Directors, Ventura Unified School District
Velma Lomax, Board of Directors, Ventura Unified School District
John Walker, Board of Directors, Ventura Unified School District
Barbara Boggio, Principal, Anacapa Middle School
Stan Mantooth, Superintendent of Education, Ventura County School Board
Roger Rice, Ventura County Board Education
Subject: Uniform Complaint
Dear Ms. Mayville,
Please consider this email as a formal Uniform Complaint, a legal document.
On November 18, 2016 a guest speaker by the name of Sheila Lowe, a graphologist (handwriting analyst) was invited to speak in Laurie Curtis-Abbe’s, Gate Language Arts and History classes which my son attends at Anacapa Middle School. (Additional information about Ms Lowe can be found on her professional website) She arrived in class wearing a Hillary pendant. After lecturing on her art, she showed handwriting signatures of two Presidential candidates without initially identifying them and asked the students which candidate she thought each signature represented. She revealed the first signature being that of Hillary Clinton, compared it to no one and said that a comparison of her signature to her handwriting indicated she was the same person at home as she was on television with only positive characteristics. She identified the other signature to that of Donald Trump. She compared the signature to that of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s right hand man. She analyzed that the comparison indicated that Donald Trump was not the same person at home as he was on television and that he doesn’t follow rules, and his characteristics were similar to Adolph Hitler. Given the fact that the class had recently visited the Museum of Tolerance and learned about the horrific things that Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler did make it all the more appalling!
My son, as well as many of his classmates, were shocked by the bias in the comparison of the two by a person brought in as an “expert handwriting analyst”. We spoke at length over the weekend and based on his reaction I decided to make the school aware of the situation in hopes of a reasonable response. I first contacted the District Supervisors office and spoke with Martha Macias who listened and directed me to phone the school principal, Barbara Boggio. I left a voice message on Monday, November 21 at approximately 10am stating that there was a situation in one of my son’s classes that I would like to speak to her about. My call was returned on Tuesday, November 22 at approximately 3pm. She listened, couldn’t really give me the school policy on guest speakers and was not aware of the subject material. She stated there was a school psychologist my son could speak to however I told her my son didn’t need to speak to a psychologist about this. I told her my concern was the clear bias of the presentation, no commentary by the teacher to explain the one sided opinion of the guest speaker. She informed me she would speak to the teacher and get back to me.
When my son got home from school on Tuesday, November 22 he told me that on that day Mrs. Curtis-Abbe told the entire class that she could not tell them as a class who she voted for but if they wanted to come up to her individually and ask her that she would tell them. I was shocked! She may as well have just told them all by opening that door. I think that the entire class knew which way she voted throughout the election though.
Based on the fact that I really couldn’t seem to get clear information from either the Superintendent’s office or the Principal I chose to allow my son to talk about this incident to the Citizens Journal so he could be heard in an unbiased environment thus enhancing his educational opportunity to my mind.
After being interviewed by the Citizens Journal, they chose to contact Ms. Boggio directly on Tuesday, November 30. Very shortly following that visit I received my follow up call from Mrs. Boggio. She then offered to facilitate a meeting with herself and the teacher and the guest speaker. That was never a request.
In my research I have found district policy regarding situations such as these and I feel that the teacher and this principal are both culpable for non-compliance to these policies. They are as follows:
6145.8 BP Assemblies and Special Events
“The principal shall ensure that speakers and community resources featured in school assemblies and special events are carefully selected and represent a balanced viewpoint. Prospective speakers shall agree to present material of educational relevance that is appropriate to the maturity of the audience, with no statements that are obscene, vulgar, or that incite violence.”
Clearly that was not the case in this situation.
BP 6144 Instruction
“The Governing Board believes that students should have opportunities to discuss controversial issues which have political, social or economic significance and which the students are mature enough to investigate and address. The study of a controversial issue should help students learn how to gather and organize pertinent facts, discriminate between fact and fiction, draw intelligent conclusions, and respect the opinions of others.
The Board expects teachers to exercise caution and discretion when deciding whether or not a particular issue is suitable for study or discussion in any particular class. Teachers should not spend class time on any topic which they feel is not suitable for the class or related to the established course of study.
The Board also expects teachers to ensure that all sides of a controversial issue are impartially presented, with adequate and appropriate factual information. Without promoting any partisan point of view, the teacher should help students separate fact from opinion and warn them against drawing conclusions from insufficient data. The teacher shall not suppress any student’s view on the issue as long as its expression is not malicious or abusive toward others.
Teachers sponsoring guest speakers shall either ask them not to use their position or influence on students to forward their own religious, political, economic or social views or shall take active steps to neutralize whatever bias has been presented.”
Clearly these policies were violated! All sides of a very controversial issue were NOT impartially presented, with adequate and appropriate factual information. The students were not helped to separate fact from opinion. And as I said earlier the guest speaker was wearing a Hillary pin!
In order to protect themselves, Mrs. Abbe, being a revered veteran teacher and Ms. Lowe, being a nationally known handwriting expert and expert witness, may deny these claims. I believe unquestionably that if the students were interviewed as a class, without the presence of the teacher, more than one student would corroborate this story. My version would be undeniable.
I would request the kids have this opportunity to speak about this without the teacher present to and unbiased individual. Also, formal letters of apology to the students and the parents, and a guest lecturer who can speak about these issues without bias and with both sides being equally compared and represented. Clearly teachers and school principals need retraining on school policy. A District-wide letter to staff, students and parents needs to be sent out promising to never do such things again. Sheila Lowe needs to be banned from ever speaking again at school also.
This incident is nothing more than political indoctrination of students in a public school system comparable to a communist country. We are not a communist country! This will not be tolerated.
Kindly awaiting your response,
Note: This case will be discussed on the Andy Caldwell Show today, 12-7-16 from 4-4:30pm. Guest host Stephen Frank, Editor of CA Political Review will converse with George Runner, CA State Board of Equalization Member, about Demonization of Trump on campus, including the Ventura School District case. http://theandycaldwellshow.com. It will likely be available as a podcast later.
Note: there is additional information in our original article: http://citizensjournal.us/guest-lecturer-at-ventura-school-tells-students-trump-is-like-hitler/
Note: California teachers credential holders’ oath/responsibilities
Note: VUSD School board meetings – next: 12-13-16
George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard