About Istation’s threats of legal action against NC educators

I haven’t said much in public about multi-million dollar ed-tech corporation Istation’s threats of legal action against me and two other North Carolina educators up to this point.  But since the media has now published those threats I thought they deserved a response.

About a month ago it was brought to my attention that a significant change in the way we evaluate our children’s reading ability in North Carolina was flying very much under the radar.  I began to research the matter and was dismayed by what I learned.  

I learned that there were some crucial differences between the mClass assessment tool and the Istation assessment tool which had resulted in an evaluation committee overwhelmingly recommending that North Carolina’s schools continue using mClass.

I learned that our state superintendent had disregarded that committee’s input and awarded the contract to Istation anyway.

I learned that the superintendent and his representatives had claimed repeatedly that the committee had not recommended mClass.

I learned that documentation existed that would show those claims to be false.

I learned that the level of fear within the Department of Public Instruction is so high that it’s very difficult to get current–and even, in some cases, former–employees to talk about what goes on there.  But it’s not impossible.

I believe that the people of North Carolina deserve government that is truthful and transparent.  I believe the policies of our education system should be informed by the consensus of the people who are most knowledgeable about how they will affect our children.  I believe that those children deserve best practices in their classrooms that will lead to the brightest future they can have.

With those goals in mind, I have put countless hours into researching this matter over the last month.  I have spoken with dozens of people who are deeply invested in education and government in North Carolina and learned much about everything from dyslexia to procurement rules.  

Along the way I have passed along a lot of information that I felt would be helpful to the public in understanding an issue that deeply impacts our children and therefore the future of all of our communities in North Carolina.  Not one time have I stated anything that I did not believe to be absolutely true. And indeed, when the Department of Public Instruction finally gave in to massive pressure to comply with lawful public records requests and released a trove of records on July 12, those documents substantiated all the claims that had been made about the evaluation committee’s recommendations and revealed even more troubling details about the contract process.

On Monday, Istation’s North Carolina attorneys sent me the following cease and desist letter accusing me of making “demonstrably false, misleading, and defamatory public statements about Istation” based on what they refer to as “unverifiable speculation and unsubstantiated statements.”  They informed me that Istation is considering its legal options against me at this time. It’s a curious PR strategy for a company that you’d think would be focused on winning over North Carolina teachers right now.


It’s unfortunate to see attempts like this to silence educators who simply want the truth and what’s best for our children.  

Thank you to everyone who has reached out over the past few days in support.  My attorney assures me that the truth is an absolute defense against charges of defamation.  With that in mind, no matter what course of action Istation chooses, I know we are in great shape.  

15 thoughts on “About Istation’s threats of legal action against NC educators

  1. Thank you for you vigilance in this matter! Your diligence in doing what is right by our students is much appreciated by this educator and mom! I wholeheartedly believe that united we stand in this matter! Our children deserve the best!

  2. I, for one, get tired of solicitations for a vote that are sent home with students about twice a year. They are like postcards and they are tooting the horn of the state superintendent. I’m my opinion, he simply does whatever he wants, and what the committees of the educators think is null and void to Mark.

  3. I just wanted to thank you for all your efforts to protect the children of NC against the swamp of corrupt politicians

    • I also appreciate all of your time and energy. I am trying to share these views and news with colleagues.

  4. As a retired Florida educator, I cannot thank you enough for your advocacy for children. I am heartsick that this is what schools, parents and teachers are up against. If only more educators would fight this good fight! Following this in Florida!

  5. Justin. I’ve gone through what you are going through and worse as a charter leader.Its not easy and will get harder. Always remember who you are and why you do the organizing work that you do. They will try to define you and people who were once friends and allies may try to distance themselves. Also, remember to always fill your cup. Meaning, take time to do things that heal your body and mind snd that feed your spirit. Thank you for your service to our nation. Above all, peace.

    • Have you attended a People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s Undoing Racism training? If not it could be helpful even just to have the support of people in that network.

  6. Silence is compliance. Shout it out if you must! We educate CHILDREN- we do not have to make for-profit companies feel good about their deceptive practices.

  7. As a CMS teacher I thank you for what you do to ensure that our students get the best possible education, even if it flies in the face of greed driven policies directed by individuals that bend to the will of the dollar

  8. Your efforts are very much appreciated! As educators we all deserve to know what decisions are being made for our students and we deserve to be a part of those decisions as well. I hope that all of the “noise” we are creating about what’s best for our students will convince the Attorney General, NC Legislators, and the NC Auditor to take note and investigate. As an early reading specialist I can only hope that the best interest of our students will be what matters most. Thanks again!

  9. As a fellow educator, I want to thank you for your countless hours of research and blogging! You are the voice of many and it is greatly appreciated! We must stand up and speak out for North Carolina’s children. Thank you for shedding light on this travesty.

  10. Seriously, if your attempt to communicate information distressed the company, then I think that they should have attempted to communicate and to answer your questions via a phone call or email.. I wonder if this legal threat was a bullying tactic designed to silence respected leaders of the teaching profession, as well as other educators. I am so sorry that you had to face 1 minute of stress for trying to get clarity on a decision that affects so many students!

  11. As a parent, who’s children have been to six (6) schools before 7th grade – all in different states, we have found the NC school system to be superior to the others, for exactly this reason: educators and people constantly and overly engaged to ensure that the children of NC schools receive the best education and have the best outcome for each individual student. Thank you!

  12. Just WOW! As a mother of a teen in Florida getting ready to start High School in just a few short weeks, I can’t thank you enough for your courage. It breaks my heart to see one who cares so very much about the future, our kids, be personally attacked. I am part of a few groups here in Florida and this has been a real education for me. Keep up the fight. Keep speaking out. Us mom’s appreciate it more than you know. THANK YOU!!

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