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Shipley responds to speech linking alleged murder to school choice bill
FAIRFIELD — Iowa House Rep. Jeff Shipley has explained why he gave a speech linking an alleged murder in Fairfield to the Legislature’s school choice bill.
Shipley, a Republican from Birmingham who represents District 87, gave a speech on the House floor on Jan. 20 in which he referenced a parent in the Fairfield Community School District making a “desperate plea for help” for his son, then a sophomore at Fairfield High School. The parent addressed the school board via Zoom during a meeting in April 2021.
“He is begging the school board for some sort of relief, some sort of empathy, for the plight of his tenth grade son. He ended his comment demanding some sort of voucher or school choice which could help his son get into a more accommodating school,” Shipley said during his speech.
Shipley said in his speech that this student should be getting ready for graduation this spring, but instead “this student is awaiting trial for first degree murder.”
“And again, I know no policy that we pass here, no amount of prayers we say back home, is going to bring back the life of our deceased friend, but when we talk about problems we’re trying to solve … I know the problem that I was sent here to solve by my people back home would be specifically a parent going to a school board begging for help for his suffering son and not being accommodated by the School District,” Shipley said.
Shipley encouraged his fellow House members and anyone listening to watch the video of the school board meeting where this parent spoke. Turning his attention back to the Legislature’s push for school choice and specifically the Students First Act, Shipley said he knew this was a significant reform.
“I know there are a lot of questions on the necessity and implementations, but the problem that we’re trying to solve — that I want to solve — is to make sure that no child, no family, certainly no School District and no educator would ever be subject to those heinous events again,” he said.
Shipley did not use any names during his remarks, but it was clear that the murder he was referring to was that of Fairfield High School Spanish teacher Nohema Graber in November 2021. Two Fairfield teens were charged with murdering her, Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale. Goodale’s father, Dean, was the parent who addressed the Fairfield school board in April 2021.
Dean Goodale told the school board that he did not believe that requiring students to wear masks was effective, and that it did not cut down on COVID transmission. He argued that masks create a vector for disease, not a barrier. Goodale also told the board to consider the unintended consequences of its policy requiring masks.
“Is it possible depriving children of facial expressions, which inform much of our ability to process social cues could cause an increase in sociopathic behavior, violent crime, self-harm or alcohol and substance abuse,” Dean Goodale said. “Can any of you say you know the answer to these questions? Yet the school board doesn’t think they are overstepping their authority by requiring students to participate in a human psychological experiment in order to find out the answer to these questions. I don’t know anyone who voted you on to the school board to conduct such experiments with our children. Recommending masks is one thing. When you mandate all of our students wear masks, you have overstepped your authority.”
Dean Goodale ended his remarks to the school board by stating, “Your mask policies have made me more supportive than ever for any and all legislation that diverts funds from this school district to parental choice and voucher options.”
Shipley said he posted a video of Dean Goodale’s speech to his YouTube channel.
“A couple of points he makes are very chillingly prophetic,” Shipley said. “We’re still at the tip of the iceberg with this youth mental health crisis. Next time, we might not have a warning. To the extent there are warnings of these crimes, this was a pretty big flashing red light that got ignored.”
Shipley said he has received a number of comments about his House floor speech after publications such as the Iowa Starting Line disseminated them. He said he was motivated to share Dean Goodale’s comments about school choice because they were relevant to the debate in the Legislature about the Students First Act. He said opponents of the bill argued that school choice would be harmful to students with special needs.
“The people who were against the bill were trying to deny that anything was wrong with the school system,” Shipley said. “It is very emotionally manipulative to use special needs students that way, to say we’re leaving them behind. I felt compelled to bring an actual example of a student who was not accommodated.”
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