Local board of education employee Mary Crosby earlier this week received a cease and desist letter from the Alabama Education Association (AEA) after she took to social media to express her dissent with the National Education Association (NEA) and the union’s official position regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Crosby, on Facebook, shared an article published by Fox News which reported that the NEA’s official position regarding Critical Race Theory is that the controversial academic concept is “reasonable and appropriate” to incorporate in social studies curriculum. In her post, the North Alabama educator acknowledged that the AEA and NEA aren’t entirely the same entities, but noted that dues payments may be shared between the local, state and national organizations.
Nearly two weeks later, Crosby received a letter from the AEA general counsel threatening to take legal action against her if she failed to retract her comments.
“I received the cease and desist letter from AEA in my office mailbox,” said Crosby. “I learned later that our UniServe Director had been in contact with my superintendent advising him to ‘inform me to stop campaigning and publishing false information’ and my superintendent had also received a copy of this letter.”
The letter states, “The Alabama Education Association has been informed that you have been distributing a false, libelous, now-retracted newspaper article about recent developments at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly and how AEA’s delegates voted on those matters in an effort to interfere with AEA’s relationship with our members and disrupt the recruitment of potential members.”
The letter further demanded that Crosby “retract the false publications” and “inform any and all persons to whom you issued such communications to that they are false.
The AEA also alleged that Crosby was distributing this information at her workplace during work hours, which she claims is false.
“I was at a conference,” Crosby said. “This was actually a non-working school day for my system.”
The AEA letter continued, “I am informing your superintendent that should you continue to publish libelous materials about AEA, or make false statements about AEA, during work hours, without disciplinary action against you, we will deem your employer to have approved of such activities.”
The letter concludes, “Your refusal to stop defaming AEA will lead to legal action against you. Please consider this your official notice that we will initiate litigation should you continue your current course of conduct.”
Crosby told Yellowhammer News that she viewed the letter as an attempt to intimidate her.
“If you read the letter from the AEA legal department, it’s a harassing and threatening letter to an AEA member,” said Crosby. “The entire letter is based on false allegations and I am deeply disappointed in the organization that I have been a part of for more than 25 years.”
Crosby described what she saw as an organizational political shift, and decided that her money would not support causes that were antithetical to her values.”
“In recent years, I began researching everything that was going on at the national level of our union and noticed some left-leaning tendencies,” she said. “I was told by our local chapters that ‘that’s just the NEA, folks at AEA feel the same way we do,’ more conservative in our beliefs.”
“I made some calls to determine if in fact part of my monthly dues went to NEA,” continued Crosby. “I was informed that all school employees’ dues went to AEA, NEA and our local organization. At that point, I notified my school system’s payroll department that I wanted to opt out as soon as possible. I didn’t want another dollar of my money to support some of the radical leftist agenda.”
Crosby vowed to remain steadfast in her efforts.
“I will accept nothing less than a written and public apology for this ridiculous written shake down from the AEA,” Crosby advised. “I won’t be bullied, harassed or threatened into silence. I am currently researching other organizations that provide school employees with liability coverage and actually look out for their members. I will use my voice to share this information with my local, state and national friends.”
UPDATE 3:40 p.m.:
The Alabama Education Association provided a statement to Yellowhammer News saying that the basis of the letter was a now-retracted article from Mountain Valley News. However, Crosby maintains the only content she shared was from the unrefuted Fox News article.
In its response to Yellowhammer News, the union added, “As always, AEA is committed to public education in Alabama.”
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News