FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Governor Brown and Mainstream Media Neglect to Research School Demographics—Calling Superintendent with Disabled Daughter “Callous” Over Use of Brown’s Own Mask Mandate
Oregon Governor Brown bullies Superintendent Marc Thielman, with special needs and disabled adopted daughter Molly, accuses him of being “callous and offensive” toward disabled children, neglects to research that nearly 30% of students at the Alsea School District are actually special needs or disabled.
August 24, 2021—Last Tuesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown sent out a press release as well as a letter to superintendents and school board members that included personally directed statements toward Alsea Superintendent Marc Thielman in response to Thielman’s August 11th letter to parents in his school district to help clear confusion regarding mask mandate accommodations for children who cannot wear them, which are allowed and legal through OAR 333-019-1015 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Governor Brown made the following statement,
“I am aware of one district leader who has sent a letter to parents urging them to request an accommodation for their child under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to avoid mask requirements. I find it deeply appalling that any education leader—who is supposed to be setting an example for our students—would send a communication so callous and offensive to Oregon parents and children with disabilities.”
Following the series of letters, many national and state media outlets put out pieces attempting to paint Thielman in the same vein as Brown’s statements, including the Associated Press, Newsweek, Yahoo News, Daily Mail, The L.A. Times, The New York Post, The Oregonian and others who highlighted Brown’s assertions and echoed their own sentiment toward Thielman’s actions as being “disrespectful” for the disabled community.
The national media, much like Governor Brown, made a major misstep by neglecting to address the fact that Superintendent Thielman is actually the father of a disabled and special needs adopted daughter, Molly Thielman, as shared in a public Facebook post on his Gubernatorial campaign page the day after the Governor’s statements were released to help others better understand his qualifications to discuss the needs of disabled children.
The Associated Press, along with other national media, failed by omission to include this readily available information, as well as relevant context and fact that nearly 30 percent of Superintendent Thielman’s school district students are disabled or have special needs.
“This gaslighting by the media of concerned parents and fellow school board and superintendent leaders—who are trying to meet the needs of their children and students that they took an oath to uphold and serve—has got to stop. I have a proven track record of advocacy for the disabled and special needs community, providing all available resources to address the needs of the disabled students and families in my district. Governor Brown and the OHA included the 504 ADA accommodation in section six of their mandate. Ironically, when the Governor announced the end of their earlier mask mandates and COVID metrics this past June, she spoke of the negative impact masks had on all children in the school setting. Because of this fact, many parents are reluctant to return to mask wearing for their child, citing many of the negative impacts that Governor Brown communicated. I was bombarded by parents asking me for viable and legal options for their children who had already suffered and started to display severe signs of anxiety ahead of this next school year. Those parents, many of whom have disabled children, asked what grounds they could pursue, rather than pull their children from school altogether, further removing resources available to these families. This cannot be the outcome that Brown and OHA are hoping for, as we all know firsthand that our youth are at far greater risk now for suicide than we have ever seen before under these circumstances. As an ethical, non-judgemental and responsible superintendent should, I was openly responsive to my parents, and I communicated the options provided by the Governor’s own mandate.”
Regarding the letter from Governor Brown, Thielman was quoted as also saying,
“Children with disabilities, like my very own adopted daughter Molly, who suffers from autism and cerebral palsy, are entitled to their legal accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act section 504. Brown’s derogatory remarks were out of touch—very similar to her quasi-dictatorial statewide mandates, which have only been supported by politicized and cherry picked data and scientific studies that have resulted in unwarranted intrusion into local control and decision making. Oregonians deserve an honest and transparent Governor who will treat children uniquely and protect them from one-size-fits-all generic policies by fighting to ensure individual counties, regions and districts draw their own conclusions on what is best for their diverse constituents, families and children. That is exactly why I am ready to serve as Oregon’s next governor. I also have a degree in biology and worked in field research in forestry and fisheries. This background was helpful in keeping our K-12 school open for in-person learning all last year despite school shutdowns without a single COVID case traced to the school as a source; I submit this as evidence I believe the pandemic is real and I take public health and safety seriously and have been effective at proving that schools can balance public health and safety with in-person instruction in support of all students, staff and families.”
“Brown’s ever changing mandates last year did not include the ADA accommodations that she now allows. Perhaps the efforts by mainstream media might be better spent asking Brown to review section six from her own mandate, rather than create unnecessary media drama around those trying to support the very students and families we have the privilege of serving—I am just trying to do my best under the law to accommodate all of my families, which includes many, many special needs and disabled children. Case in point, when two highly-respected Sheriffs from opposing sides of the state refer to Governor Brown’s mandates as ‘bullying threats’ in the same week, and the Governor fails to simply pick up the phone to talk to someone like me about something she takes issue with, we have a serious problem; anyone who doesn’t communicate directly, preferring to publicly bully and malign regional leaders, based upon unchallenged and self-serving conclusions, needs to take heed of her own words, ‘callous and offensive.’”
About the Marc for Oregon Gubernatorial Campaign
Marc Thielman is a Republican candidate for governor in Oregon and former Superintendent of the Alsea School District. The Marc for Oregon campaign is a grassroots constitutionally-minded campaign that promotes restoring the power to the people and ending government overreach. For more information about Marc for Oregon, visit www.marcfororegon.com, contact [email protected] for interview requests, email [email protected] for general inquiries, and follow @marcfororegon on social media.