Two teachers union presidents in New Jersey have been reportedly suspended after an undercover exposé appeared to reveal they have covered up child abuse by teachers in schools.
Project Veritas released a video Wednesday that appears to identify Hamilton Township Education Association President Dr. David R. Perry, who is depicted as saying, “I’m here to defend even the worst people.”
The video, which Project Veritas states was recorded on March 27, appears to show Perry explaining to an undercover journalist how he would protect a teacher who had physically abused or threatened middle school students from termination.
According to the video, Perry says a teacher accused of abuse must not tell anyone about the incident, but should see him in order to create a story about the abuse that would best protect the teacher.
Perry said his strategy of altering the facts of the incident would “bring it down a level.”
“We do turn [these reports] around to where, if it was a physical punch, it wasn’t a punch. It was a shove,“ Perry appears to say in the video.
“If [the teacher] comes to me tomorrow, I’m gonna date the report to the day after the incident,” he also is depicted as saying.
Perry states he needs the physically abusive teacher to tell him everything because he “need[s] to know the truth so that we can bend the truth.”
In response to the video, Scott Rocco, Hamilton Township Superintendent of schools said in a statement to NJ.com, “The true beliefs and values of this school district are not represented in this video and are not aligned with who we are as faculty, staff, administration, and community.”
Kelly Yaede, the Mayor of Hamilton Township, also told NJ.com, “I viewed the video and was quite frankly disturbed by it. There is no place in our school system for this philosophy. I trust this matter will be dealt with by a very capable Superintendent and Board of Education.”
The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) responded to this first video, claiming, “This video that they released has something like 26 edits and cuts in it. They should not be given any credibility whatsoever. There should be no credibility given to this organization.”
Project Veritas states the video had six cuts and responded to the NJEA: “We challenge the NJEA to explain in what possible context they find the statements ‘I’m here to defend even the worst people,’ or ‘I need to know the truth, so that we can bend the truth’ acceptable.’”
In a second video, Project Veritas appears to show Union City Education Association President Kathleen Valencia explaining that the union has assisted a teacher who allegedly had sex with a teen girl from being fired. Valencia is depicted as stating she would also help a teacher accused of physically abusing a student in the same way.
On March 27, Valencia tells the Project Veritas undercover journalist why a teacher accused of bruising a student in school would not receive a reprimand.
“Did the kid’s parent come in? No? Nothing happened… There’s no video? Nothing happened… [The teacher] is fine,” Valencia appears to say.
If a student speaks out about the alleged incident, Valencia says, “God forbid the kid decides to tell the principal. It happened two weeks ago, he’s not [going to tell.] Let’s say the kid does. [The teacher] is going to be like… ‘kid tripped and fell.’”
Valencia also tells the Project Veritas journalist she has “a file right here … from a teacher who had sex with a student … This file is about whether or not the teacher gets to keep his pension. Is he going to jail? No. How come? Because the child’s not pressing charges. There’s no proof.”
According to NJ.com, Valencia has also been suspended following the release of the video.
A statement from the school district says:
The board finds the comments that were made deeply disturbing and inappropriate because they in no way reflect the views, and core beliefs and values, of our school district, or of the professionalism of our educators, and other employees,” the statement says. “We have no governing control over the UCEA, its policies or procedures — we are separate and distinct entities. The UCEA does not speak for our school district.
NJEA also released a statement that says the union is “commissioning an independent review of the practices of our local affiliates and staff. The purpose of that review is to ensure that every staff member and local affiliate leader understands and clearly communicates the responsibility of all school employees to report any suspected abuse of children.”
“The Union City Education Association must reveal the identity of the teacher the union is protecting,” Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe said of the video. “Any and all parents should be paying attention. This union would rather protect their teachers than their students.”