Monday, 19 April 2010 16:15

“Crash Tea Party” Founder on Administrative Leave

Written by  Mary McHugh

Don't Tread on Me flagJason Levin, the public school teacher who founded the "Crash the Tea Party" website, has been put on administrative paid leave from his job at the Beaverton (Oregon) Conestoga Middle School, where he is a media/technical instructor. Although the school district is defending Levin's right to free speech, there was so much uproar in response to his website’s unethical and deceptive call to action — infiltrating and negatively impacting Tea Party events via disguised Tea Partiers — that his school district decided to place Levin on leave and the state’s Teachers Standards and Practices Commission will also look into the affair.

The commission will investigate (among other things) whether Levin used school time and/or school computer equipment to work on his plan to infiltrate and subvert Tea Party events. KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon, reported that the Commission says its investigation will not be completed until August.

According to Fox News, a source within the school district says the Conestoga parents were not upset at Levin’s anti-Tea Party activism at first. But that changed as his controversial statements became more public, and the school itself received thousands of emails and phone calls protesting his activities. Parents are now outraged and many have told school board members that what Levin has done is out of place in a public school system.

According to the source, teachers at the Middle School wore Obama buttons during the presidential campaign without causing a backlash about open political advocacy in the classroom. The parents feel now, however, that Levin has gone too far and have since made their complaints known. 

A TV news station in Portland, KPTV, reported that a parent of a Conestoga Middle School student who did not want his identity revealed found Levin's behavior unacceptable, saying, "Everyone has their private life and the right to do these kinds of things, but I do find it kind of disturbing that a teacher is using these hate-mongering kind of tactics to denigrate a group of millions.”

The online school district laws of teacher conduct says, "The Beavertown School District rules involving teacher use of the district's electronic system clearly state: The district's electronic communications system shall be used for educational purposes consistent with the district's mission, priorities and beliefs.” 

On the Crash the Tea Party site, Levin had suggested the following as part of his activist infiltration:  "Some other thoughts are to ask people at the rally to sign a petition renouncing socialism. See just how much info you can get from these folks (name address, DOB, Social Security #). The more data we can mine from the Tea Partiers, the more mayhem we can cause with it!!!!"  With this, the Oregon officials are concerned he was advocating identity theft.

According to KDRV-TV in Oregon, Melody Hanson, the Director of Professional Practices to the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, told The Oregonian there was concern over the possible neglect of duty involved, and that there will be a case agent assigned to the investigation who will compile a preliminary report. This will be presented before the commission whose members will then decide whether to charge Levin with misconduct. They may instead dismiss the case if they feel there is insufficient evidence.

Meanwhile, although old content at CrashtheTeaParty.org, the website is still there with an opening scree that now reads, “Want to show your Support for FREE Speech?  BUY A TEA-SHIRT.”  The shirts are offered starting at about $21.00 with the following tagline:

Welcome to our new online store! We are now selling a bunch of shirts with the OFFICIAL Crashtheteaparty Logo on them! Be the coolest looking kid at the next rally or book burning ... Get yours today!!!

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