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‘They Lied To The Public’: Errant Recording Implicates South Carolina School District In Indoctrination

Lexington school district in hot water …

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Last month, an editorial appeared in the pages of the increasingly left-leaning Charleston Post and Courier lamenting a recent settlement reached between Lexington County school district one and the South Carolina Freedom Caucus.

According to the Post and Courier, in settling the case the district surrendered to a “small group of radical malcontents” – specifically, a “small minority of fringe legislators.” This surrender, to hear the paper tell it, set a precedent for other school districts in the state to “roll over to extremists.”

Wow … hyperbolic, much? Seriously … is this a South Carolina newspaper editorial or the beginning of an Antifa rally?

The paper urged “state and local agencies to fight back against any such intimidation” in the future by “letting the public know whenever the caucus or anyone else tries to intimidate them.”

Tough talk … but is it justified?

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I must admit to not following this particular legal saga – being far more concerned with the Freedom Caucus’ bigger fight against the Palmetto State’s left-of-center “Republican” establishment. But my outlet – and its reporters – have delved deep into the underlying indoctrination at the heart of the broader debate (indoctrination which outlets like the Post and Courier have eagerly sought to mainline into the minds of our children).

Seriously, Post and Courier reporters refer to a person’s gender as being “assigned at birth” – implying it is an oppressive social construct as opposed to an immutable law of nature.

With the mainstream media cheering them on, South Carolina’s government-run schools – already among the nation’s worst-performing – dove headfirst into the vanguard of woke during the Covid-19 pandemic. Reversing this descent – and refocusing our school system on the actual (or attempted) education of the 761,159 children in its remit – is vital work. It is not something which ought to be demonized by the press.

Anyway, the gist of the Freedom Caucus spat with the district is as follows: Last year, the caucus sued Lexington One because it believed the district was violating a budget proviso in which Palmetto State schools were “expressly forbidden from teaching CRT,” or critical race theory.

While budget provisos are not permanent laws (i.e. part of our state’s code of laws), they are the law of the state while the budgets which contain them are in effect. And the proviso in question (1.82 in the current budget) has been the law of the state for the past three years – having been included in each state budget since 2021-2022.

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RELATED | FREEDOM CAUCUS WINS FEDERAL LAWSUIT

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Did Lexington One break the law? It claims it did not. In fact, when the district was asked to produce any materials which violated the proviso as part of the Freedom Caucus lawsuit, it claimed it had none. In other words, it claimed it was in 100 percent compliance with the proviso (a.k.a. the law).

Meanwhile, the Freedom Caucus was accused of doctoring recordings in the hopes of spinning the story in its favor to national media outlets.

Well, there is one recording the Freedom Caucus could not possibly have doctored … because they had no idea it existed. At least not until this week.

The recording was a voicemail message from Lexington one’s chief academic officer Mary Gaskins intended for its former Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer, Ann O’Cain. In the message, Gaskins is following up on the district’s response to the lawsuit – an audit which concluded the Freedom Caucus’ allegations against it were false.

Take a listen …

(Click to View)

(FITSNews/ YouTube)

One line in the recording was of particular interest …

“You didn’t find anything that was against the proviso except for some teacher materials that the school had used,” Gaskins said on the recording.

Wait … “except for?

Ummm … I’m no expert in the English language. Except wait, I am absolutely an expert in the English language. And the last time I checked, “except for” is an acknowledgment that the district did find materials which violated the proviso.

Gaskins’ voicemail message to O’Cain was recorded at 7:45 a.m. EDT on November 29, 2022 – the same day the school was required to turn over its responses in the lawsuit.

How did we find out about it? Because as fate would have it, the voicemail was not sent to O’Cain – but rather inadvertently left on the iPhone of Midlands, S.C. parent Katie Carter Jeffcoat.

Gaskins appeared to acknowledge her error four hours after leaving the incriminating message, calling Jeffcoat’s phone and asking her if she would “call her back.”

“She’s been leaving voicemails on my phone accidentally for about a year,” Jeffcoat told me. “Immediately after she left the one referring to the audit she must have figured it out because she called me and asked me to call her back.”

Jeffcoat wasn’t having any of that …

“They lied to the public,” Jeffcoat said. “And released no details about the audit other than to say it was clean.”

(Click to View)

Katie Carter Jeffcoat (Provided)

Jeffcoat was initially reticent to share her story on the record, but told us midway through our investigation that she wanted to go on the record because “I just want the truth out there.”

“I recently moved and don’t live in the district anymore but I own land and pay taxes in Lexington county district one,” she told me.

A mother of three elementary-age students – one of whom is a child with special needs – Jeffcoat told me she is a “strong advocate for public education because I know first hand how important public education can be for kids who have disabilities and special needs.”

Still, she insists government-run schools have an obligation to be truthful to their constituents.

“I have always held transparency and accountability as the standard that all citizens should expect from our government officials and entities,” she said. “That’s why this matters to me. Our local school district has not been upfront and honest with its citizens.”

Jeffcoat also pointed out the district’s aversion to the truth comes as it is undertaking a possible internal financial audit for the next budget year after raising taxes this year.

“How can any citizen trust any kind of internal financial audit after this curriculum audit fiasco?” she wondered.

I reached out to RJ May III – the vice chairman of the Freedom Caucus and one of the lawmakers slammed by the Post and Courier editorial as a “radical malcontent” and “extremist.”

May told me Jeffcoat’s recording was yet another vindication of his group’s position on these matters.

“This bombshell recording further confirms that Lexington One knowingly violated state law, falsely claimed it wasn’t, and an undermining of their argument that they settled because of financial reasons,” May told me. “Simply put, when Lexington One was caught red handed, they lied to parents while secretly acknowledging wrongdoing amongst themselves. Lexington One settled because they could not defend the indefensible. But regardless of how the liberal education establishment spins this, the winners are students in Lexington One who will no longer be subjected to the Left’s indoctrination.”

This news outlet has reached out to Lexington One for comment on the recording. We will provide our readers with that response as soon as we receive it.

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UPDATE: Here is a comment from Lexington One chief communications officer Libby Roof

The voicemail references material the District evaluated as part of an internal review.  The District further evaluated the material in question as potentially in violation of the Proviso.  At the time of the voicemail, the review of that material was ongoing.  However, a determination was made, shortly after the voicemail, that the material was not a violation because there was an established process for customizing, vetting, and communicating curriculum to ensure compliance with state laws and standards. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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2 comments

Jake July 12, 2023 at 3:34 pm

You really have become a MAGA cult nut. Any statement that black people have been discriminated against since the country’s founding and that has hindered their educational and economic development is not only not controversial it is objectively true. Nuttiness like yours has led Oklahoma to tell teachers they can acknowledge the Tulsa Massacre as history, but they can’t say it was white people killing black people because they were black and because the white people did not believe black people should be allowed to compete with them in business. or be more successful than white people.

Not openly discussing historic truth, will not make it not true. Over time, our nation will look back on all this race hate Trump has brought to the surface, which is supported by publications like this one, and see it for what it is; hate and anger, fueled by fear.

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The Colonel Top fan July 12, 2023 at 5:12 pm

I’m glad all of mine have already graduated!

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