News & Politics

N.J. Union Honcho Brags About 'Bending the Truth' to Defend Abusive, Drugged-Out, Shoplifting Teachers

It’s no secret that teachers’ unions have a habit of protecting bad teachers to the detriment of the nation’s students, but how far will they go to protect an incompetent—even abusive—teacher?

That question is answered in Project Veritas’ latest undercover investigation targeting Hamilton Township Education Association (HTEA), a teachers’ union in New Jersey.

In the videos below, a Project Veritas (PV) undercover journalist gets Dr. David Perry, president of HTEA, to admit on tape that his union is willing to “bend the truth” to “defend even the worst people” and hide a potential crime.

The PV journalist, posing as the sister-in-law of a middle-school teacher who had assaulted a student, paid Perry a visit to ask for advice. The resulting sting video is quite an eye-opener.

The union chief told the woman that her (fictional) brother-in-law needed to keep quiet about the assault and come to his office and file a report immediately.

“Listen,” Perry said. “If he hit the kid, he hit the kid. It is what it is. We… by him coming to us, only protects him down the road. For one, if the parents turn around, or the kid goes and tells somebody, and the parents come in and nothing’s said… or something is obviously said at this point, he would be under our control and he’d have an attorney immediately for free.”

He explained that it was important for the woman’s “brother-in-law” to tell the union his side of the story because at some point the student could come forward if the teacher “pisses this kid off again.”

Perry explained that because the woman’s brother-in-law was supposedly a “tenured” teacher, it would be very difficult to fire him.

“In New Jersey, teachers gain tenure after four years. Once they have it, they are protected by a multitude of union rules,” Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe explained. Perry told the PV journalist that in order for a tenured teacher to get fired, “something horrific” would have to occur, like “beating up a kid where there was blood, raping, sexual conduct…”

Perry stressed that it was very important to stay quiet about what happened unless it “comes up.”

“If it should come up. If this…if nobody brings it up from school, I don’t say boo,” he said. “You don’t wanna bring attention to this. You know what I mean? Because obviously, it wasn’t big enough for him, for that student to complain, ‘I got hurt, I was… I was beaten, I was threatened, I was boom.’ You know what I’m saying?”

Perry added that he’s seen situations where a teacher has actually threatened a student: “Unless, of course, and I’ve had this, where the teacher would say ‘You say anything, I’ll kill you.’”

The union chief explained how he would defend the teacher if the student eventually came forward: “Yes, Mr. Jones came in to me 4 weeks ago, 3 weeks ago, and he told me that there was an incident in school and he was a little concerned because this kid could be, you know, is like, could be a liar, could say stuff,” he said while actually sitting in front of an New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) poster professing to “work for the children.”

He continued, “And what Mr. Smith told me was that yes, he did put him in his seat, or he did pull him or whatever. But don’t come back and say that we threatened him. We never threatened him. The kid could’ve went to anybody. Nobody… that’s the questions I gotta to ask him. Did anybody hear him say that? You know ‘I’ll kill you if you tell somebody’ or ‘I’ll get you.’ Cause if he did that and there’s witnesses, they do what they call a HIP investigation. They’ll get the class…. See these are all questions I need to know. But he needs to not tell a soul about this.”

He repeated that absolutely nobody should be told about the altercation. “People in school, because they all talk. I don’t care if it’s his best friend. He needs to keep it with his wife, and you. And that’s it,” Perry advised.

Perry went on to suggest that it was standard operating procedure for the union to put words in the abusive teacher’s mouth to help him beat the rap.

“What I put in there [the file] is strictly what he tells me,” he explained. “And I’m gonna tell him what to say basically.”

But as  O’Keefe notes, Perry may be violating a New Jersey law by helping a teacher to formulate a lie.

“The state’s Department of Children and Families website states very clearly, quote: ‘In New Jersey, any person having reasonable cause to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse should immediately report this information…’ Unquote,” he said.

Perry told the undercover journalist that his job was to keep the abusive teacher out of that kind of trouble.

“Now if you go to the Hamilton Board of Education and report this, they’re gonna call the police, and they’re gonna call parents and all that sh–,” he said. “We don’t do that. We don’t do that here. I’m here to defend even the worst people.”

That apparently even includes teachers who have engaged in sexual misconduct: “God forbid, if a child…and I hate to keep using this…was sexually mistreated and the person came and said, ‘Listen Dave, I made a mistake…’ first of all, I’m gonna be pissed off because you don’t do that. But, it’s my job.… It’s almost like being a priest. It’s my job to protect,” he said.

He went on to explain how he helps teachers beat sexual misconduct claims:

“So … ‘What do you mean by sexual misconduct?’ Because he touched her hair? It’s not sexual,” he said. “Was it right? No. But you see, you get it down to the lowest level possible.”

He advised the PV journalist to tell her “brother-in-law” to come see him.

“And listen, if he doesn’t want it on record after what he tells me? So be it. But I don’t want him coming here with a bunch of lies,” he warned. “I need to know the truth, so that we can bend the truth.”

Perry boasted that he is so good at his job he was able to get a drug-addled teacher who was fired from her job five times and rehired five times. He helped another teacher who was arrested for shoplifting. “I’m here to defend,” he said.

At the end of the video, O’Keefe called the idea that teachers’ unions are about protecting kids “propaganda.”

“Shattering the union’s narrative that they are all about the children is an uncomfortable truth,” he said. “The unions would argue that they are protecting the institutions to protect the children. But their actions and words are corrupt. The institutions are not the same thing as the children. Teachers unions are interested in protecting themselves. It would be nice if Dr. Perry were just one bad apple….That is certainly what we will hear. But don’t believe it.”

O’Keefe confronted HTEA President Dave Perry outside of his office this morning.

Asked for comment on the video, the flustered Perry seemed to “bend the truth” a little: “I said what we do is we help people and when they do wrong, they deserve the punishment.”

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) responded on Twitter by denouncing O’Keefe’s tactics. “There should be no credibility given to this organization,” NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said.

Project Veritas says it will be releasing more undercover videos of teachers’ unions from all across the country in the coming days and weeks.