Editor’s Note: We discussed this story on the Weekend Live Show (12:10)
This is Kayla Churchill from Freetown.
She’s a mother who became increasingly concerned about school safety after the Uvalde massacre, and wanted to make sure her children’s elementary school wouldn’t just let any person off the street into the building to wander around. After complaining for months about her concerns to no avail she conducted an experiment to see if she could enter multiple schools in town, without using her real name, and wander the halls freely. She was able to successfully do that four times in four schools in one day, and instead of thanking her for highlighting a major safety issue, the district responded by charging her with a crime:
A Freetown mother of three is facing charges for entering four public schools on Thursday using fake names and wandering the halls while taking video in an effort to shed light on what she deems as weak security measures. Kayla Farris Churchill, 28, will be charged with disturbing a school assembly, according to a police statement released on Sunday. Investigators said Churchill will be issued a summons to appear in Wareham District Court at a later date, and additional charges are possible. According to state law, the charge brings the possibility of a month in prison or a fine of up to $50.
Churchill said she entered two elementary schools, an intermediate school, and a high school by giving a false name to front desk staff, then wandered the halls while filming with her phone. Churchill said the stunt wasn’t planned but rather an impulsive, emotional decision. With two children in the district and a third due to start school next year, Churchill said she was compelled to seek answers about the school system’s security measures after the Uvalde school shooting in May 2022, after her young son questioned whether a similar tragedy could happen at his school.
“He was inconsolable. I told him I’d find out the safety plans so we both know what he should do in an emergency,” Churchill said.
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Churchill attended a school council meeting, where she expressed concern and offered security suggestions that she said administrators more or less dismissed. Churchill said Freetown-Lakeville Regional School District officials urged her to go to Freetown Elementary School to see recent security improvements for herself.
Stop right there. They literally TOLD HER to go to the elementary school and see what the security was like. So she did exactly what they suggested they do, she discovered and exposed that the “recent security improvements” were a joke, and now they’re taking out their own failures on her by charging her with a crime. Here’s how she got in:
But to Churchill’s surprise, she said was easily able to gain access to the school despite giving a fake name. She also said she observed a propped-open door at the school’s entrance.
Oh good, the door was propped open. Kind of like it was in Uvalde. This is why I will never, ever, ever take people seriously when their knee jerk reaction to a school shooting like the one in Uvalde is to ban more guns. It’s such an easy solution – don’t let people come off the street and walk around the building. Treat schools like you would treat an airport or any other place where the lives of the people inside are valued. We have metal detectors in courthouses, security checks at airport terminals, and armed police officers at Selectmen meetings, but we don’t have any of those things in public schools. This is why children will continue to die – because liberals have no intention of taking necessary steps to protect them.
After that she went to another elementary school where she managed to get in and wander the hallways by telling the main office that she was a young hispanic boy.
About an hour after that incident, Churchill said she decided to test the other schools’ ease of entry.
“I was driving, and my mind starts racing, and I thought, ‘Jeez my kid is there. Could this happen again?’” she said.
Churchill said she headed to the district’s other elementary school, Assawompsett Elementary, and was shocked to again gain entry into the school by giving a fake student name — “Carlos Monteiro.” Churchill said nobody from the front desk stopped her when she stood in the lobby for up to a minute.
“I just stood there thinking, ‘Please somebody, say something to me. Call the police, tackle me, something.’ And nobody’s doing anything,” Churchill said. “I thought, ‘This is crazy. I’m going to see how far I can take it,” then proceeded to wander the halls while videotaping.
Then she went to the middle school and got in there too.
Churchill said she left the elementary school and called the superintendent as she drove to the district’s intermediary school with a similar plan. He put her in touch with the Freetown Elementary school principal, who, according to Churchill, spoke to her for 45 minutes and apologized for “human error.” After that call, Churchill said she entered the George R. Austin Intermediate School using the fake name “Jess Rowan,” only this time, she said confronted a front desk staff member about how easily she could enter with a fake name.
Finally she capped the day off by heading over to the high school, where she spent 30 minutes wandering the halls, taking video, and talking to students.
Finally, Churchill headed to the nearby Apponequet Regional High School, where she said that she wandered the halls for nearly half an hour, taking video with her phone and engaging a female student who asked who she was and why she was recording. She eventually surrendered to a gym teacher, saying, “I’m an intruder, and I’ve been here for 25 minutes. You should probably call the authorities.”
The Superintendent admitted that all of the schools blatantly disregarded the safety protocols.
Freetown-Lakeville Superintendent Alan J. Strauss told Boston.com he couldn’t comment on the details of the incident as police investigate the matter, but said school officials will work to strengthen security protocols and retrain staff.
“Our district has always had established safety protocols in place,” Strauss said in an email. “This parent was allowed to enter buildings without all of those protocols being effectively enforced and we will continue to work closely with local law enforcement and town officials to strengthen and enhance all safety and security protocols while also retraining all in-place staff.”
So then why is the district pressing charges on her, when it should be firing people for such an egregious safety breach? Apparently because the wine and cheese Moms in town are blaming the whistle blower for “creating chaos.”
The incident has drawn a mix of ire and awe from the community — particularly from parents who say that while they agree the schools need better security measures in place, they are upset with Churchill’s method.
Kimberly Marshman, a Lakeville mother of two kids in the district, said she was shocked and disturbed by Thursday’s incident.
“I think [Churchill] could have found a better way to raise awareness. Creating chaos in schools is not how you create lasting changes in policy,” said Marshman, adding that she’d like to see Churchill charged for trespassing and filming minors without parental consent.
“We teach our children that your actions have consequences; where are [Churchill’s] consequences?” asked Marshman.
Oh, I’m sorry Kimberly Marshman, would you rather your children get shot than filmed? Because that was the whole point of this experiment. I guarantee this woman would be the first person calling to ban AR-15’s if Freetown Elementary School became the next Columbine.
How else was she supposed to raise awareness about the lack of safety? She brought it up at a School Committee meeting and they told her everything was fine. Clearly it wasn’t.
The bottom line is that we should be thanking Kayla Churchill instead of prosecuting her. Instead the people who are outraged about what she did will blame the Second Amendment for the next school shooting. She now has to fight this legal battle in court, and I hope she wins. Here’s a link to a GoFundMe for her legal defense if you’d like to help.
Sidenote – I’ve thought about doing this same thing with voting fraud. One time I went to vote and couldn’t because someone else had already voted using my name. That’s what happens when you don’t require ID to vote. So I picked another name from the book that was wide open in front of me and voted under someone else’s name who hadn’t voted. I’ve thought about going into various polling places in Worcester and seeing how many times I could vote without getting caught, but I also know that the second I admitted to doing all this that I’d be arrested for highlighting an easily fixable problem. Our society cares about as much as they do about protecting democracy as they do protecting children.
If Kayla or her attorney would like to come on the Live Show to discuss this she’s more than welcome to email [email protected], or message Clarence Woods Emerson on Facebook.