In their own words:  Rachel Ware speaks out against Western Hills Middle school, the police, & their treatment while addressing an explicit video filmed in the school gym, as well as Josh Mello’s daughter’s suicide letter.

In February of 2022 I was going with my fiancé, Josh Mello, to speak with the school about a few serious matters. One being a sexually explicit video filmed in the school gym and the other was a suicide letter my stepdaughter wrote during distance learning in the messaging system to her teacher. Apparently, the way her teacher treated her, and the other students upset her to that level.

My stepdaughter is 12 years old and in 6th grade. Keep in mind she was just in elementary school the spring before. None of this, and what’s to follow, is OK.

Upon trying to speak with the principal of her school, Josh was told he was not allowed in due to an unconstitutional no trespass order that was actually never served and was eventually dropped, but only after we both ended up getting arrested. The principal said he could speak about the matter outside the main door.

These are not matters to discuss in the open and should be taken very seriously.

After being denied entrance and a safe space to talk about the matter, Josh removed his daughter from the remainder of the school day, and we left. Feeling it was an unsafe place to be, along with the unconstitutional no trespass order they kept saying they had on him. Mind you, on this day, the school knew Josh had a restraining order against his daughter’s mother, and that he was the only legal guardian. They still wanted to keep him away. 

How is a young girl expected to do well in school when both she and her only legal guardian are treated with such disregard?  We had to leave; we understandably were very upset.

These matters are not to be overlooked. We sent an email stating we are heading to see the Superintendent and that this matter needs to be addressed. Sexually explicit videos should not be sent between 6th graders, never mind filmed in the school gym. And the teacher’s behavior needed to be addressed. Who is to know what other children she had this kind of effect on?

Karissa had complained about this teacher since the beginning of the school year. And to be honest at first we thought that it was a typical child not liking her teacher. Then Karissa started telling us how this teacher would not allow them mask breaks if a student acted out she would punish the whole class. Josh had actually spoken with the principle about this and got nowhere. The principal defended the teacher and never addressed Josh’s concerns.  As for the video and images, along with the note she wrote, we have all of that evidence.

We arrived at the Briggs building on Park Ave. We buzz the office to meet with the superintendent. They state they will be right with us. Josh gets a call from his public defender at the time, and he informs Josh that they may be dropping a warrant for his arrest for willful trespass.

We decide to leave the building and we walk to our van and leave. No one ever came to the door to meet us. Hours later Josh gets a call from his lawyer explaining to us that he has 3 counts of willful trespass and one count of obstructing an officer and that they are also charging me with obstructing an officer. I was floored. What had I done wrong? How could this have gone down such a crazy path?

I spent the whole weekend scared that the Cranston Police were going to pick me up. It was a holiday weekend, and we were not going to end up in the ACI all weekend. Josh had sole custody of his daughter at this time. What were we to do with her? We were trying to protect her when they decided to arrest us.

Not only did I get arrested, the school Assistant Superintendent Norma Cole, requested that a formal No Trespass order be placed on me for Western Hills and the Briggs building due to my involvement in these incidences.

What did I do? I ask again. Try and protect my stepdaughter. I got arrested for protecting her.  

Prior to my arrest, at the beginning of the school year I had started putting in APRA requests. The first one was asking about specific books in the Cranston Schools such as Gender Queer and similar books. The next APRA was the school’s liability insurance as we were working with the Bonds for the WIn to try and hold the elected school committee responsible for the neglect and violations of their oath of office.

Josh got arrested in Oct. and an illegal no trespass was supposedly put on him. He was never formally served. I keep emailing and asking the Superintendent to meet with us and discuss the no trespass as it was, and is, in direct violation of Josh’s rights. We went back and forth for months. She even stopped responding to my emails. I kept on her and she finally had the lead city solicitor Chris Millea call me and speak with me.

We still got the run around and I kept pushing. The day in October when Josh was going to help his daughter for an emergency and got arrested someone had tipped off Channel 12 I believe. By the time I came back with Karissa, after bringing her home to change, the cameraman was already there covering a story about a lockdown at the school.

We stood against the masking at the School Committee meeting in Aug of 2021 and they asked Josh to leave because he spoke up. A few other dads were asked to leave too. As it shows in my police report, all because I was present with Josh they wanted to put the no trespass order on me on two public buildings.

I was charged with obstruction of an officer. Even though I was not breaking any laws the day in question. I even have audio to prove the officer was lying but my lawyer didn’t want to use it. I apparently didn’t stop when he yelled at us, which he never did, and he said I almost hit him with my car as I drove away.

Prior to showing up at the Briggs building that day, I sent a very direct email stating we would take legal action against them for not meeting with us and addressing these concerns. I can provide the email I sent, along with the letter of intent we served the School Committee in April which states the laws that were broken. I think it all ties together. The arrest of me was a retaliatory act against Josh. Even my lawyer thought so.

Now I cannot go to two public buildings. That is unconstitutional. To make matters worse, since I am not married to Josh, the city solicitor Chris Millea said that I have no child in the school system so it should not matter. I am beyond mad. I am also a resident of Cranston and I do have a child in the school system.

I have been in my stepdaughter’s life for 7 years, that is more than half of her life. They are violating my rights. Did you know that from October until this no trespass in February that on average I went to my stepdaughter’s school at least once a week sometimes twice because she forgot her bottle of water and would ask to have one brought to her. Do you also know that not once when I was buzzed into the school that they ever asked me my name or for an ID. I just said the water was for my daughter and I even waited to give her a hug once. Never ID’ed. Double standards all the way around.

I took the police to trial for what they charged me with. They said I obstructed an officer. Since I drove away and did not stop. The officer was apparently coming to arrest Josh for willful trespass. Yet again I did not know who he was, and I did not almost hit him with my car. I did not get pulled over. This incident took place around 1:30/2pm and they did not charge me or Josh with anything until about 7 pm that night. We did not turn ourselves in until the following Tuesday as it was a holiday weekend, Josh had sole custody of his daughter as there was an active restraining order against the mom which the school violated, and we needed to make sure she was safe before we could turn ourselves in.

The judge said he almost gave me the complete win.

The Judge said he was on my side except for what the officer stated, which was that I should have known who he was when he was coming out of the building. Mind you, after seeing the video from discovery, he was about a minute behind us, and I was already getting into my car, as it states from the officer’s report when he said he yelled to me. On the audio that I have from that day, you do not hear him, yet you hear everything else around us including the fire department behind the Briggs building. There were sirens blaring. Also, I was not a suspect at the time so why would the officer be yelling my name when I was not the one they were coming for?

The officer lied and said I almost hit him with my van. There was no way he was that close to my vehicle when we left. The video shows him exiting the Briggs building about a minute after us. I have audio which you never hear him call out as he stated in his report. It is absurd. 

I got arrested and charged, plus a no trespass was placed on me because I stood up.  I put APRA requests in this year, and I went with my fiancé Josh to talk to the school about the sexually explicit video and the self-harm note. What am I supposed to do? Sit back and not take action? She is a child who needs adults/parents who will stand up for her and protect her. I would do it time and time again.

The police report states they are putting the no trespass on me because of my involvement in these instances. I went to support Josh and to discuss what we found and how to address it. Wrap your head around that one.

We must take a stand and not tolerate this kind of abuse of power. No family should be turned away and not even listened to when they have grievances, never mind arrested! I have never in my life been arrested nor did my actions deserve to be treated the way the Cranston School Department and the Cranston Police did.

Parents need to unite and be angry. This kind of behavior should not be acceptable.

–  Rachel A. Ware

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