Fact Check: New Mexico National Guard Did NOT 'Terrorize' Schoolchildren

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke
Fact Check: New Mexico National Guard Did NOT 'Terrorize' Schoolchildren No Such Event

Did the New Mexico National Guard "terrorize" schoolchildren? No, that's not true: An official representative of the Estancia School District told Lead Stories, "this event never happened." A New Mexico National Guardsman tells Lead Stories this information is," false." Also, this claim was made on a self-described satirical website whose disclaimer says it publishes articles like this one for "entertainment purposes."

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by Real Raw News on February 21, 2022. The article, titled, "National Guard Terrorizes New Mexico School Children," opened:

Contemporary cartoons like South Park and the Simpsons have predicted the future with almost infallible accuracy. In South Park: The Pandemic Special trigger-happy, gung-ho cops became surrogate teachers after the town's educators fell ill from Covid or refused to work for lack of eagerly sought vaccines. A similar event is unfolding, this time for real.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Grisham, a Deep State democrat, has abused her authority in calling up the state's National Guard to play substitute teacher. She said so many educators were out sick with Covid that she had no choice but to enlist Guardsmen to fill an 'educational vacuum,' even though Republican Party of New Mexico Chairperson Steve Pearce warned she was setting 'a dangerous precedent.'

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

National Guard Terrorizes New Mexico School Children - Real Raw News

Contemporary cartoons like South Park and the Simpsons have predicted the future with almost infallible accuracy. In South Park: The Pandemic Special trigger-happy, gung-ho cops became surrogate teachers after the town's educators fell ill from Covid or refused to work for lack of eagerly sought vaccines. A similar event is unfolding, this time for real. [...]

It is true that New Mexico has requested assistance from the National Guard, whose members are temporarily filling in as substitute teachers due to complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this article cites uncorroborated claims, such as:

Lauren Grey, a 26-year-old high school drop-out originally from Odessa, Texas, is among the Guardsmen tasked with educating our nation's youth. She is currently teaching fourth-grade students at Estancia Elementary School in rural central New Mexico. On Thursday, February 17, Grey showed students a map of New Mexico and asked them to point out the state's capitol. When one double-masked student thrust his hand in the air and shouted "Santa Fe," Grey admonished him, incorrectly saying that Albuquerque, not Santa Fe, was the state's capitol city. Several students refuted Grey's mistaken assertion, which prompted an unprofessional response.

'Who was your last teacher? They weren't smart. Albuquerque is the capitol of New Mexico. I'm in the military, I'm in charge, and I can carry a sidearm if I want to. Do you know what a sidearm is? It's a pistol, a gun,' Grey said. 'Now repeat after me, "Albuquerque is the capitol of New Mexico".

The students fearfully complied.

... Lieutenant Austin Scott Peters paces around, peering over shoulders as the 6th-graders read aloud passages from William Golding's Lord of the Flies. ... Peters pulled a loaded sidearm from its holster, saying, 'Those who have the most firepower makes the rules. I don't care what anyone else has taught you. These are the facts. Ignore them at your own peril.'

Lead Stories reached out to Estancia Municipal Schools to ask about the claims. In an email dated February 23, 2022, Superintendent Dr. Cindy Sims responded:

I can state without reservation that no 'Lauren Grey' has ever reported for duty in the Estancia Municipal School District. This event never happened on a campus in my school district.

Lead Stories reached out to the New Mexico National Guard concerning these claims. In an email dated February 23, 2022, the chief of public affairs at New Mexico National Guard, Joseph Vigil, responded:

The New Mexico National Guard does not have anyone by the name of Lauren Grey or Lt. Austin Scott Peters in our ranks. The information listed in the article is false and inaccurate.

A January 20, 2022, New York Times article titled, "Some states in the U.S. are taking desperate measures to avoid closing schools," also mentioned:

Under New Mexico's initiative, National Guard members and state workers must become licensed as substitute teachers or child care workers and fulfill the usual requirements for substitute teachers, such as background checks and a teaching workshop.

Real Raw News has a long history of publishing false claims in mock news stories, many of them about convictions and executions of various public figures at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. For example, the site reported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hanged (she wasn't); former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta was executed (he wasn't); and that "the military" convicted former Attorney General William Barr on charges of treason (it didn't).

The website for Real Raw News includes a disclaimer that warns readers not to take its content too seriously. Specifically, it says:

Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. This website contains humor, parody, and satire. We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice on legal counsel.

Real Raw snip.jpg

(Source: RealRawNews.com screenshot taken Tue Aug 3 16:39:48 UTC 2021)

Lead Stories has covered claims published by Real Raw News in the past. Previous Lead Stories debunks of Real Raw News items is collected here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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