GREENWICH, Conn. (NewsNation) — A Connecticut school administrator has been placed on administrative leave and is under investigation by state education officials after a secretly recorded video appears to show him saying he avoids hiring conservatives and Catholics.
A covertly filmed edited video, posted by controversial conservative group Project Veritas, shows Cos Cob Elementary School assistant school principal Jeremy Boland talking to a woman at a series of restaurants in July.
A narrator on the video says the woman Boland was talking to was working with Project Veritas. Project Veritas is known for using undercover methods to reveal supposed liberal bias and has been accused of deceptive practices in the past. Project Veritas was recently involved in a scheme to buy a diary and other items stolen from President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden. At least two people not associated with Project Veritas have pleaded guilty.
“Believe it or not, the open-minded, more progressive teachers are actually more savvy about delivering a Democratic message without really ever having to mention politics,” Boland allegedly says in the video. “The conservative (teacher), who is stuck in her ways. I’ll never be able to fire her, and I’ll never be able to change her. So, I make an impact with the next teacher I hire.”
In the 12-minute edited video, Boland also talks about how “more progressive teachers” are “savvy” about “delivering a Democratic message” to students without having to reveal their personal political preferences.
NewsNation has reached out to Boland for comment but has not yet received a response.
In the video, Boland said he’s not allowed to ask job candidates about their political leanings, but instead, words some of his questions in a way that signals what those might be.
“What do you do with the Catholics? If you find out someone is Catholic, then what?” the woman from Project Veritas asks at one point.
“You don’t hire them,” Boland allegedly responded.
The video quickly drew criticism from both Democratic and Republican politicians.
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, who has lived in Greenwich for decades, issued a statement saying “discrimination of any kind has no place in Connecticut, especially in our public schools. This is not aligned with our Connecticut values.”
NewsNation local affiliate WTNH reports that Boland was placed on administrative leave. Superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools Toni Jones said the school is investigating the video.
“We do not support any opinions that promote discriminatory hiring practices based on race, religion, gender, or age in any way, and we want to remind our entire community that our curriculum policies and procedures are strictly enforced by our Board,” Jones said in a statement, per WTNH.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumental, D, said he supports an investigation in a Tweet.
“This country was built on religious tolerance. Religious discrimination is inexcusable and illegal,” Blumental tweeted. “Of course I support a full investigation.”
Republicans also cried foul.
“The assistant principal has been screening teachers hiring teachers only with a progressive ideology,” said Connecticut Senate nominee Leora Levy. “He is hoping to influence young children to think the way they do.”
Fred Camillo, a local official in Greenwich, asked the city attorney to begin an investigation.
“When it comes to hiring practices, whether in the hall of learning or any place else for that matter, you can’t have brainwashing and indoctrination and not giving people interviews just based on their religion and what your perception is of people who are a member of that religion,” Camillo said.
Some, however, are skeptical about how Project Veritas got the footage of Boland.
While Connecticut State attorney general William Tong condemned Boland’s comments, he also told the Hartford Courant that he questioned Project Veritas’ practices.
“There’s something also wrong about this entrapment journalism and gotcha journalism,’’ Tong said to the Courant. “I think there’s something really wrong with vigilante journalism, and I don’t think it should be celebrated. There are no rules when somebody engages in Wild West vigilante journalism and tries to entrap somebody.’’
Internal documents obtained by The New York Times last year showed Project Veritas has gone to great lengths to work with lawyers to see how far its reporting practices can go without breaking federal law.
The Times wrote that Project Veritas sting operations typically diverge from standard journalist practice by using people who hide their real identities or even create fake ones.
Responding to this criticism on “Morning in America,” Mario Balaban, media relations manager for Project Veritas, said what the organization is doing is “undercover journalism.”
Public figures, Balaban argued will give “canned answers” to reporters if they know they’re on the record.
However, in undercover videos, “they will be much more honest,” Balaban said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.