Amanda Grant, a member of the Proviso Township High Schools D209 school board, confirmed that the 8-page, double-sided, 8.5 x 11, color “Setting the Record Straight” mailer sent recently to families across Proviso Township was paid for by the school district.
She did not indicate how much that cost was, but the Review has sent a Freedom of Information Act request for information related to the mailer, including the cost of designing, printing and mailing the document, which is presented in both English and Spanish and has the official district logo and address on it and was sent with non-profit postage.
The document appears to be an attempt to debunk what the author, Board President Rodney Alexander, calls “lie, after lie, after lie, after lie” on the part of board member Claudia Medina and accuses her of having “revealed herself to be someone who hates Black men in leadership.”
Alleged lies Medina is accused of in the document are claims that Supt. James Henderson’s previous school district is bankrupt, claims that she isn’t receiving information from the district and thus needs to request it via FOIA, and calling attention to previous news articles that show Henderson in a bad light.
“KEEP TALKING Medina – GOD has the last word! YOU don’t understand whose we are – We [Alexander and Henderson] are not only highly qualified for this work but are anointed for a time such as this to lead this work,” reads one part of the document.
The document also accuses the Forest Park Review, specifically Maria Maxham its editor, of being a mouthpiece for Medina. Medina and Maxham, says Alexander, “continue to double-down on their lies, as if it’s going to make the lies true.”
The document further accuses the Mississippi State Auditor of participating in “a smear campaign against Dr. Henderson’s name for not utilizing a particular legal firm” after the state entity released an audit they said showed “widespread problems” and issued a press release regarding such.
The Review reached out to all board members regarding the mailer, including Alexander, who was contacted both by phone and email, and by time of publication had heard from two, Grant and Ned Wagner.
Grant said, via email, that she had no idea the mailer existed until she received it in the mail.
“I had absolutely no involvement in this,” she said. When asked what her knowledge was of who funded the document, she replied: “Unfortunately, the district paid for this.”
Wagner, too, said he wasn’t aware of the mailer ahead of time.
“I had no idea it was being developed,” Wagner said. “I would not have authorized it, but I will continue giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. I’m trying to be supportive of everyone, inclusive of Claudia [Medina].” He added: “I’m going to give [the mailer] a pass. I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. We need to heal.”
Residents in Proviso Facebook groups posted pictures of the mailer, overwhelmingly expressing the opinion that it was a waste of taxpayer money. Comments ranged from “Another Monty-Pythonesque example of failure, waste, and corruption” to “Totally inappropriate and a waste of taxpayer money. I’d like to know how much this mailing cost and who approved it” to “This the most unprofessional mess I have seen, I pray more people decide to run, this is terrible and a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
More information on the costs and distribution of the mailer will be printed once the Review receives information from the district.