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Cleveland Schools Employee Resigns After Accusations She Joined Capitol Mob

Christine Priola submitted her resignation to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District one day after the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol. [CMSD]
CMSD Personnel Picture of Christine Priola

Updated: 5:44 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021

Federal agents searched the home of a former Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) employee Friday night. She is suspected of participating in the Wednesday insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building. No one was taken into custody, according to the FBI.

After a mob intent on preventing the affirmation of President-elect Joe Biden's election victory stormed the Capitol, federal authorities circulated dozens of photos and asked for the public's help in identifying suspects. Within hours, social media users mobilized to identify some of those photographed, alleging that one is a Willoughby woman who worked as a pediatric occupational theraptist for CMSD.

The district said Friday that Christine Priola resigned from that job on Thursday, the day after the riot at the Capitol.

The resignation letter, which was in her personnel file released by CMSD, reads, in part, that she will be “switching paths to expose the global evil of human trafficking and pedophilia, including in our government and children’s services agencies.”

Christine Priola's resignation letter to CMSD stated she does not support union dues which she said helps fund the "killing of unborn children." [CMSD]

Multiple sources have said Priola is one of two pro-Trump rioters pictured on the floor of the Senate after the mob breached the Capitol. The image circulated by the FBI shows a man sitting in the chairman’s seat. To his left, a woman believed to be Priola, in Trump gear, is holding up a cell phone and smiling. Fox-8 News reported that law enforcement sources said they are investigating her involvement.

Neither the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's office nor Cleveland police would comment to ideastream, which also attempted to reach Priola. She has not responded to messages.

The Cleveland Teachers Union issued a statement Friday condemning the attacks on our “democratic institutions” and calling for “rioters who broke the law to be held accountable.”

“We are aware of reports of a Cleveland educator who engaged in rioting in the Capitol. We take these allegations very seriously and if true, they must be held accountable,” said CTU President Shari Obrenski.

As of Friday afternoon, 15 arrests had been made on federal charges, according to the Justice Department, and dozens of arrests were made on the day of the riot, according to D.C. Police. 

Among the many citizens answering their call for help is Columbus resident Josh Miller, a native of Painesville, who said he was so upset by the riot at the Capitol, he wanted to help in some way with bringing suspects to justice.

He said he learned Priola's name from a user in an online forum on Reddit and went to work doing what he called some "good ol' investigation," finding public records and details about her employment, which he posted on Twitter tagging law enforcement agencies and CMSD.

“I don't know how to really describe it. I feel like it was a sense of obligation that if I could do something in some small way, I would,” said Miller. “I don't think people like that deserve to be teaching children.”

He said the entire incident at the Capitol was unsettling.

“I just found the whole display of whatever they (the Pro-Trump rioters) were trying to accomplish was very disgusting and offensive and scary,” said Miller. “And there just aren't even really any words for it. I think it's kind of everything we all kind of any decent person would have felt watching it that day.”

CMSD issued a statement Friday afternoon referencing the allegations and condemning the riot.

“Questions raised today about a former CMSD employee’s alleged involvement in the riots at the U.S. Capitol this week have also raised questions about the District’s position on such behaviors. While CMSD deeply believes in the right of any individual to peacefully protest, as many did on the Capitol plaza on Wednesday afternoon, the District deeply condemns the actions of those involved in the riots inside the Capitol and on the Capitol grounds," the statement reads. "The right of peaceful protest, as protected by the first amendment, is a foundation of our democracy. The forcible takeover and willful destruction of our government is not.”

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”