Undercover video released by Project Veritas revealed that Nick Nugent, Executive Director of Michigan Education Association’s South Oakland Districts Association Office, was apparently violating Michigan law regarding child protection. The video was recorded on April 24 by an undercover journalist posing as a MEA member. The reporter assumed the role of a MEA member who pushed a student down in class and knocked the student’s head against the edge of a board.
In the Project Veritas video, MEA official Nugent explained the union’s position on protecting the MEA member. “This is a tough one because, if we report it you’re gonna get investigated. And I don’t want you to get investigated.” Nugent then advises the reporter posting as a teacher to “wait it out” and “take some time off” because “the longer the time goes on, the [student’s wound] will heal.”
Nugent then explains that the “worst-case scenario” for a teacher would be an investigation that could imperil job tenure. Nugent explained that the union would lead in a process to negotiate a settlement agreement. “With that you do what we call a settlement agreement. You choose to resign, and they will pay you out a certain amount of money… The soonest they would get a hearing is probably October, November. And they would have to continue to pay your health care.”
In the video, Nugent said that if the incident is reported to school authorities, “they’re probably gonna put you on admin leave… And you get paid during that time, but ultimately, I’m worried they would take your teacher tenure.” When the Project Veritas journalist further described the extent of the student’s injuries, Nugent said “It is truly up to” the teacher as to whether or not report the incident, despite the MEA policy on mandatory reporting of child abuse.
Nugent went on to describe past incidents in the districts he manages where teachers were accused of the physical abuse of students. “I’ve had where teachers have pushed kids and pushed them down and it hasn’t come out… I’ve had it where, like I had a coach one time, and he’s a teacher too, you know push a kid, I mean push him down on the ground. It was reported, and then he ended up with a six-day suspension.”
In a separate exchange, Nugent said that because the incident between the teacher and student was not accidental, that the teacher is technically a mandatory reporter. Nugent gave a flier to the undercover, which reads that “Mandated reporters are always required to report suspected abuse… teachers… are mandated reporters.” As to whether the teacher should make a report, Nugent again said, “that’s your decision. I can’t make that decision for you.” He added, “Either way you go you’re supported by your association.”
This is the second undercover video report Project Veritas has released on Michigan teachers unions. Last week, Project Veritas released undercover footage and documents from the Lake City Area Schools affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers Michigan chapter. That report revealed that the union negotiated a $50,000 payout for a teacher who was accused of sexual misconduct with a “seven- or eight-” year-old girl as part of his resignation. A report by the Education Intelligence Agency noted that the National Education Association (NEA) implemented changes after Project Veritas pulled a sting operation on one of its Michigan affiliates. The NEA instructed affiliates on proper vetting of volunteers, in addition to verification of employment and membership status. Affiliates were also reminded not to talk about sensitive or confidential matters with unfamiliar people.