Castle Rock, CO

Extremist group calls for members to attend DougCo schools equity meeting

Suzie Glassman

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Joe Oltmann, Castle Rock Resident and Founder of FEC UnitedPhoto byFrom the May 16, 2022 Next with Kyle Clark news segment, streamed on YouTube

Correction: The story originally stated Allison Jones posted in the FEC United - Education pillar Facebook group. Jones is not a member of that group or FEC United. Her post was copied and pasted into the FEC United group by Judi Reynolds, the group administrator.

By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) FEC United, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as anti-government, called for its members to attend this week's Equity Advisory Council (EAC) meeting.

Through a Facebook post shared in a group called Parents Advocating for DCSD Students, Allison Jones expressed concern that the committee plans to discuss equity in hiring, recruiting, and retaining staff and submit their recommendations to superintendent Erin Kane.

Her post was then shared in the FEC United - Education pillar by the group's administrator, Judi Reynolds.

"Be aware that there are more than a few members on the council who believe our district should be guided by social justice ideology and are actively trying to find a way to inject it into our schools," Jones wrote.

"Now you may wonder what social justice activism has to do with hiring and retaining the best and brightest teachers to ensure our students achieve academic excellence. I'm wondering, too," she said.

Chester Shaw, chair of the EAC, asked Jones for proof that social justice ideology is something teachers in DougCo are pursuing. Allyson Kulinski, a group member, asked him to come to the meeting, unaware that Shaw was the group's leader.

The post links to an article titled "How Social-Justice Education Coddles Young Minds," which argues that social justice theory creates an environment where students must "think twice" before speaking up because they could offend someone.

According to the National Education Association, the largest labor union in the U.S., "social justice is about distributing resources fairly and treating all students equitably so that they feel safe and secure—physically and psychologically."

FEC United fears

Joe Oltmann, FEC United founder and Castle Rock resident, is known for espousing violent rhetoric. Members of the United American Defense Force, a militia force connected to Oltmann, have shown up to events armed and wearing military-style fatigues.

While the post calls for its members to provide written feedback after the meeting, some community members worry their presence could intimidate the volunteers who serve on the EAC.

Kane said the district would increase security at the meeting's location and plans to have three security officers and one Lone Tree police officer present and available.

"The DCSD Safety and Security Department is aware of Facebook posts circulating encouraging people to attend the Equity Advisory Committee meeting.

"These meetings are open to the public, and we want to hear from community members of varying viewpoints. However, we also want to make sure it's a safe environment for all," said Kane.

She also noted district members spoke with a neighboring school district that had FEC United representatives attend a meeting last July with no incident.

"According to that school district's security director, the group initially stood outside and then attended the meeting. There were no issues and the school district's security had no reason to ask them to leave. Based on this information, we do not expect any threatening behavior at the upcoming Equity Advisory Committee meeting," said Kane.

Superintendent belongs to FEC United Facebook group

Kane and DougCo's director of parent, community, and civic engagement, Allison Rausch, joined the FEC United Facebook group in 2020, although neither is an active participant.

When asked about her membership in the Facebook group, Kane said, "Over the years, I have watched many Facebook pages and groups to see what conversations were taking place about education—that does not mean I'm a member of, or even affiliated with, any particular group.

"That said, I haven't even been active on Facebook in well over a year (the last time I posted to my personal page was September 2021)."

The school board tasked Kane with interpreting the district's equity policy and recommending any necessary changes after discovering what parents, students, and the community fear will or won't happen under the policy and what they would like to see.

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