FIRST ON FOX: Emails obtained through a public records request show that the California Teachers Association (CTA) – one of the most powerful teachers unions in the state – spied on parents who fought for schools to be reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In March 2021, Parents Association, a group of parents at multiple school districts in Northern San Diego County, successfully sued the state to reopen schools. 

California High School

A hallway with social distance decal reminders seen in a California high school. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images/File)

The following month, a CTA researcher named Ann Swinburn emailed a parent arm of the local union seeking to share information on parents.    

Amid email exchanges, one of the parties accidentally CC’d a principal within the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD), which was sued by its local union – with help from CTA – in December 2020 to stay closed. Realizing their mistake, someone appeared to suggest the principal should delete the email – which he ultimately did not do. 

Allison Stratton, one of the founders of Parents Association and an SDUHSD parent, filed a Public Records Act request to obtain the emails. Stratton told Fox News the emails confirmed her suspicions that CTA was spying on parents. 


"We already suspected (it) because we see the same people show up at every school board meeting saying the same things, echoing what the union is saying. So, it’s not a surprise," Stratton said. "They were working as hard as they could against parents who wanted school reopened."

Fox News has reached out multiple times to the CTA for comment but did not hear back before publication. By Tuesday, Swinburn’s Twitter account was deleted. 

California school

Cesar Verdugo, 5, shows his work to his teacher in a pre-kindergarten class at West Orange Elementary School in Orange, California, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong/File)

Several archived tweets shared by Reopen California Schools, show that Swinburn appeared to be convinced that parent groups fighting to reopen schools were covertly being backed by big money interests. 

Lance Christensen, who is a candidate for California superintendent of public instruction, called the email revelations "startling and disgusting." 

"Conducting opposition research is a common practice in political campaigns. But to have the teachers' union dedicate personnel to politically target moms and dads protecting their own children and expressing their first amendment rights is both startling and disgusting," Christensen said in a statement to Fox News. 


He added: "Entrenched special interests have used their war chests over the last two and a half years to intimidate and threaten anyone who dares to challenge their ineffective reign over public education. This must end."