Update: 11/01/12 at 2:55pm EST - LifeSiteNews.com has just been informed that the trip to Ohio has been cancelled.
October 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Ottawa-area mom says she is “incensed” that a teacher at her daughter’s Catholic school has organized a trip to Ohio in the final days of the U.S. election to support the re-election of President Obama.
Fifty-two students from St. Peter’s and St. Matthew’s high schools in Ottawa are set to make the trek across the border this week to Boardman, Ohio, accompanied by civics teacher Scott Searle.
Ohio is considered a key swing state in the presidential election.
Calls by LifeSiteNews to St. Peter’s school were directed to the school board. A media spokesperson at the board denied that the students would be involved in supporting the Obama campaign. Instead the goal of the trip is simply to “observe” voter registration and the voting process, said Communications Officer Mardi de Kemp.
However, in a note posted to his Facebook page, Mr. Searle painted a different picture. “52 St. Peter Students are travelling to Ohio for the last week of the election!” he wrote. “Lets help the President bring it home!” He also shared a photo on his page of a sign that says: “we are re-electing the President so … volunteer, maybe?
Searle currently lists “volunteer” with “Obama for America” on his LinkedIn profile for 2012.
One student at St. Peter’s who spoke to LSN on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Searle came to her classroom to plug the trip, and that there was no room for doubt that the goal was to support Obama.
“He made it very clear that this was to promote Obama,” she said, adding that Searle had a “pleasant banter” with her classroom teacher about how “Romney is a nutbar.”
Searle told the students that they would be calling people and going door-to-door encouraging them to vote, added the student.
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When presented with Searle’s role volunteering on the Obama campaign, the school board said it would not comment. “That’s really his personal business,” said spokesperson de Kemp. “What he does on his own time is really his own business.”
De Kemp said that during the trip students would be studying issues of “urbanization” and “free trade,” attending a lecture by Nathan Offerdahl, a “professor of working class studies at Youngstown State University,” and attending a rock the vote event.
Offerdahl is listed as a Masters student on the website of Youngstown University, and does not appear on the directory of faculty, although he does list “Teaching Assistant” at the university on his Linkedin profile. However, Searle’s Facebook post about taking his students to Ohio to “help the President bring it home” does have one “like” – by Nathan Offerdahl.
The mother who initially spoke to LifeSiteNews about the trip expressed her concerns that President Obama is “the most pro-abortion president we’ve had.” She also cited the fact that the Obama administration is currently being sued by numerous Catholic organizations over the HHS birth control mandate, which requires employers to provide contraception, abortifacient drugs, and sterilizations to their employees free of charge.
“To take kids on a field trip of this nature is so profoundly disrespectful of the Catholicism in the school,” she said.
Scott Searle did not immediately respond to an e-mail request seeking comment.
Ottawa Catholic School Board
570 West Hunt Club Road,
Canada K2G 3R4
Phone: (613) 224-2222
Fax: (613) 224-5063