The Turning Point event at Perry High draws criticism


At the Chandler Unified School District meeting on February 22, controversy arose over a recent after-school event at Perry High School.

Several people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting mentioned Turning Point USA as an organization that does not have a place on a CUSD campus.

While district officials indicated that legally nothing could be done to remove a student-initiated club from campus, the parents pleaded with the district and board of directors to reject Turning Point USA.

Newly elected board member Kurt Rohrs admitted that he attended a Turning Point event on the Perry campus on February 21.

Brandy Reese, a parent, said she learned of the Turning Point USA club’s presence in Perry last fall. Although Perry is not new to the club, Reese said the recent event alarmed her.

“Turning Point was behind the hateful, anti-democracy signage campaign against Clint Smith,” Reese said.
Smith finished a distant third in an attempt to oust now four-year-old US Congressman Andy Biggs, who is listed as a contributor on Turning Point’s website, tpusa.com.

Reese said Turning Point USA is intolerant and intends to spread hate messages – particularly those aimed at LGTBQIA youth.

“I propose that this club not have a place on our campus where our purpose should be to promote the pursuit of truth, community, collaboration, justice and inclusion,” Reese said. “Unfortunately I was told that as the club is run by students it would be allowed. I request that the CUSD policy be changed for such clubs.”

Turning Point has had a Perry High School Club since at least early fall 2021. It has a stated purpose both on the PHS Club website and on its membership permit.

“The purpose of TPUSA is to promote patriotism in students throughout Perry High School and to educate them about the history of the United States, capitalism, and the ideas influencing the Western world,” the statement said. “We want to build responsible citizens who uphold our founding ideas and protect the natural rights to life, liberty and property.”

Turning Point USA and the Perry High School Club could not be reached to answer questions about this story.
Students also spoke at the February 22 meeting, including Corinne Collins, a Perry student who identified as part of Support Equality in Arizona Schools. She read a statement from a gay male student who was unable to attend the meeting, saying that he did not feel safe disclosing sexuality to a random classmate.

“The event presented very biased and questionable information,” Collins read. “As a student, that’s unacceptable.”

Rohrs, in his comments as a board member near the end of the Feb. 22 meeting, said he had attended a “talk about racial unity” turning point at Perry High the day before, on Feb. 21, which was attended by two black people and a young Asian man attended Ms.

Rohrs said the talk focused on “reaching white students to try to make judgments based on some people’s character and behavior rather than race color, and to reject the divisive rhetoric promoted by outside political agitators.” .

Rohr’s description was met with murmurs and giggles from the small crowd that was still present at the time.

“This actually seems consistent with the socioeconomic education that we teach in our classrooms,” Rohrs said.

Rohrs also responded to allegations made by most speakers who mentioned him and/or Turning Point in their Citizen Comments.

Chief Executive Officer Jason Olive was absent from the February 22 meeting. Vice President and former longtime CEO Barb Mozden chaired the session, interrupting Rohrs several times to discuss the proceedings.

Katie Nash, a parent who also spoke, said she was “outraged and concerned” by Rohr’s actions and the message they are sending to the community. She said Rohr’s attendance at the Feb. 21 event, which featured well-known Turning Point employee “MAGA Hulk” Stephen Davis and others, gave the impression that the board and district supported Davis’ statements.

“Being on a social media page sends a message that CUSD and the Board support that individual’s actions,” Nash said. “When we look at our portrait of a learner, we see attributes like empathy, critical thinking, collaboration, and citizenship. I don’t see where violence, hatred, exclusivity and uniformity fit in.”

Nash said what is of most concern is that CUSD is being targeted on an inflection point “watch list”. Turning Point’s website has a School Board Watchlist of districts across the country. Under the Arizona tab, most of the Valley’s largest districts are on the list, including 33 districts from across the state.

Rohrs can be seen in a group photo from the event, posted to the @turningpointperry Instagram page, showing him smiling next to Davis.

Rohrs said wearing a badge and publicly identifying yourself as a board member at campus events is a safety requirement. He said the Kurt Rohrs Board Member Facebook page was a parody account and that the statements attributed to him there were not his.

The question “What is CRT?” was used on a flyer promoting Davis’ February 21 performance. CUSD officials have repeatedly said that critical race theory is a law school concept not taught in most K-12 schools, including Chandler.

We would like to invite our readers to give their civil comments, pro or con, on this topic. Email AZOpinions@iniusa.org.

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