“We think it’s a great video, but we can’t take credit for it,” she said.
The videos and the email made no reference to Parent Revolution. But Arlice Sims, who works at the Coconut Grove Barnyard, said Parent Revolution organizers Mehul Patel and Shirley Ford came to the community center earlier this month to produce the 32-minute documentary and trailer.
Parent Revolution spokesman David Phelps said his group had indeed “initiated” the mini-documentary, but wasn’t “directly affiliated” with Sunshine Parents. He said the connection was brokered through the Urban League of Greater Miami.
The Urban League is run by T. Willard Fair, who serves on the Foundation for Florida’s Future board of directors, and was a Bush appointee to the state Board of Education.
Fair said Sunshine Parents was newly formed, but said he was “insulted” at the suggestion that the group had been created to carry water for Bush’s foundation or Parent Revolution.
“When minority parents decide that they need to flex their muscles, there is always some criticism,” he said.
Separately, questions have been raised about signatures collected in support of the parent trigger by StudentsFirst, the education think tank founded by Rhee.
The signees include retired Miami-Dade schoolteacher Ira Paul, who confirmed his signature to The Herald/Times.
But Maria and Dan O’Hollearn, of Coral Gables, both said they didn’t sign the petition, despite their names and addresses appearing on the petition.
“I wouldn’t have signed anything like that,” said Maria O’Hollearn, a healthcare professional.
Carlos Herrera, a 24-year-old Florida International University student, said he, too, was surprised his name was on the list of supporters. Herrera said he wasn’t familiar with StudentsFirst or the parent trigger bill, and didn’t remember signing a petition supporting it.
A spokesman for StudentsFirst said the organization “stands by the authenticity of the signatures.” And Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, who has referenced the petition during debates, said she had no reason to believe to doubt their legitimacy.
But other senators said lingering questions over the petition and the videos would cast a dark shadow heading into Monday’s debate on the Senate floor.
“We don’t need groups from other states coming into Florida and causing trouble,” said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, a staunch opponent of the bill. “This is proof.”
Miami Herald staff writer Kathleen McGrory can be reached at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.