September 24th, 2013
A group seeking to protect children with disabilities from bullying, falls victim to IRS bullying.
by Dr. Patrick Hill, Bully Blotter President and Founder
As the Director of Special Education for many charter schools in California, I have witnessed parent after parent of students with disabilities withdraw their children from their neighborhood public schools and enroll their children in charter schools. A large percentage of these children were bullied at their neighborhood schools, and the school administration was ineffective in confronting and disciplining the bullies.
I know from observation, many school administrators sweep negative behaviors under the rug. Administrators often practice this behavior so the school will appear safe on paper with a low occurrence of suspensions, expulsions, and arrests. Although not all administrators follow this practice, there are too many administrators more interested in looking good on paper versus actually providing a safe school campus, free of bullying.
After years of witnessing this pattern in local school districts, I realized I needed to do something about the problem. I decided to open a non-profit business designed to take a conservative no nonsense approach to school bullying. The non-profit, “Bully Blotter”, would promote a public transparent accountability rating system of schools on their management of bullies. In short, victims of bullying would rate the school on their handling of the bully, and Bully Blotter would post the rating for the public to view. Bully Blotter’s long term goal is to become the nation’s authority on anti-bullying in our public schools.
I invested a great deal of my energy, money, time away from my family, and possibly jeopardized my career by shortening my average work week from fifty-five hours to forty-five hours, while attempting to jump start Bully Blotter. Bully Blotter applied for non-profit status with the IRS in April of 2012. I was very excited about the opportunity to protect children, improve our schools, and make America a better place to live!
After months of waiting and multiple calls to the IRS, I was informed that Bully Blotter had been moved to the “minimal development” line. Then came the now famous “slow walk letter” conservative groups were receiving from the IRS. This letter arrived nine months after the application date.
The letter asked ludicrous questions about our business activities. There were the disturbing Orwellian questions to be answered under threat of perjury involving descriptions of all activities, percentages of time allocated to activities, describing program participants, and “who” conducts the activities. Despite the obvious overreach, the most discouraging line in the letter read “Provide any other relevant information. Explain in detail where necessary”. Having had experienced bureaucracies in the past, it was obvious to me, this letter was likely setting up the next letter. A letter that would likely begin with “We need more specific information on….”. By the way, Bully Blotter was allowed five weeks to respond to a letter that took nine months to receive.
Considering this process could take years, I was discouraged after sacrificing so much. A friend of mine applied for a non-profit to raise money for public school physical education programs after Bully Blotter applied. His non-profit business was up and running before I received “the letter”. It was at this point, I realized I would no longer be able to move forward with the business, considering the IRS’s handling of the situation. I was sacrificing too much of my time and money. I was not able to run the business without the ability to collect charitable donations as a recognized 501 (c) (3) business.
Message received. I intuitively suspected someone, for some reason, at the IRS did not want to grant Bully Blotter tax exempt status. Had Bully Blotter been declined tax exempt status, we could have at least appealed the decision. The “slow walk” from the IRS was extremely deflating and discouraging. At this point I withdrew Bully Blotter’s application for tax exempt status. By the way, the IRS accepted the removal of the application. That only took one day, one fax, and one sheet of paper.
Why was Bully Blotter singled out? Was Bully Blotter given the “slow walk” because of what I believe and with whom I associate and assemble, as the founder? Was this related to my running for public office the year prior as a conservative, where I was endorsed by local Republican groups and a prominent TeaParty.org columnist? Was the conservative approach of Bully Blotter considered a threat to the President Obama Administration, Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ rather weak approach to bullying prevention at StopBullying.gov? Was it because we were on the “Be on the Lookout List” as an advocacy group wanting to make America a better place to live? Does the IRS look unfavorably on the concept of “accountability of tax funded programs”?
Many of these questions will likely be answered through subpoena power as Bully Blotter has joined the class action funded by Citizens for Self-Governance.
Personally, I have never been sued or sued anyone. Bully Blotter has joined the class action because one answer is becoming very clear as the facts surface. The IRS trampled on the Constitutional Rights of many Americans because of who they know, how they assemble, and what they believe. As the founder of Bully Blotter, the IRS intruded on our rights to liberty and the pursuit happiness with their “be on the lookout”, “slow walk”, and “extra scrutiny” tactics. More importantly, the IRS intruded on our right to promote the happiness of children and children with disabilities victimized by bullying in public schools.
Let us take a step back and consider the irony of this situation:
A not-for-profit group seeking to protect children from bullying, becomes a victim of IRS bullying.