New Jersey lawmakers announced Monday they will investigate explosive hidden-camera videos showing teachers’ union officials brainstorming on how to protect teachers accused of assaulting students.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said the chairs of the Senate education and labor committees will hold joint hearings on two undercover videos released last week by Project Veritas, saying he wanted to “hold everyone accountable.”
“It’s a real problem,” he told NJ Advance Media. “And I think it’s enough of issue when you have local leadership bragging about how they get around things, and how they can fix things, that it needs to be reviewed to make sure it stops.”
The state legislature’s decision to investigate came after the two union chiefs—Hamilton Township Education Association President David Perry and Union City Education Association President Kathleen Valencia — were suspended for their disturbing comments.
The videos show Mr. Perry bragging to an undercover investigator about saving the job of a repeat drug offender five times, while Ms. Valencia called students “scumbags” and “dirtbags” and boasted about protecting a teacher who had sex with a teenage girl.
“I need to know the truth so that we can bend the truth,” Mr. Perry said on the video. “If nobody brings it up from [the] school, I don’t say boo.”
The comments came in response to a female undercover investigator who told the union reps she was seeking help on behalf of a relative who had assaulted a student in his capacity as a teacher. The story was fictitious.
The New Jersey Education Association announced last week it will commission an independent investigation while blasting Project Veritas as “a political organization of releasing deceptively edited videos that later prove to have been dishonest and misleading.”
In a Monday editorial, the New Jersey Star-Ledger called Project Veritas President James O’Keefe a “fifth-rate attack schnauzer,” but said the footage “deserves further scrutiny” and that “if real abuse is exposed, the NJEA, if true to its creed, should thank him.”
The New Jersey uproar may be just the start of a battle royal between Project Veritas and the nation’s two largest education unions — the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
On Friday, AFT Michigan filed a motion in federal court to stop Mr. O’Keefe from releasing more footage after he promised to post video and documents that AFT President Randi Weingarten “did not want you to see.”
In the filing, AFT Michigan said Project Veritas had sent its agents to state affiliates in Michigan and Ohio “for the purpose of secretly recording teachers and their representatives and to falsely represent these conversations.”
Mr. O’Keefe denied engaging in illegal activity and accused the AFT of trying to “hide their dirty laundry.”