Tensions mounted during a recent Falcon School District 49 board meeting when January 6 insurrectionist Thomas Hamner accused Superintendent Peter Hilts and attorney Brad Miller of failing the district’s students and continued to disrupt the meeting after returning to his seat.

Hamner, who lives within the district’s boundaries northeast of the Colorado Springs area, was sentenced to 30 months in prison with credit for time served after pleading guilty to illegally entering the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, engaging in “a tug-of-war with a Capitol Police officer and an officer from the Metropolitan Police Department over a bike rack that was being used as a barricade,” and joining a mob to help push a large metal sign onto law enforcement officers.

Colorado Springs resident Thomas Hamner was found guilty of two felony counts related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

According to public records, Hamner was released on December 26, 2023, pending trial on four other felony counts. In February, a judge found Hamner guilty of a second felony and dismissed the remaining charges.  The judge sentenced him to 30 months of incarceration to be served concurrently with the first count. As a result, Hamner won’t go back to prison, but he’s required to complete 36 months of supervised release. 

Hamner said Hilts and Miller had lost track of what the U.S. Constitution means to children’s education and weren’t “able to sustain even a small population of children in school.”

He then shouted, “Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants,” before board president Lori Thompson could call the next speaker.

Hamner. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)

The famous quote by William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania, is often used by Christian Nationalists to demonstrate that our nation was founded on Christian principles. Yet, Penn, a Quaker, was a leading defender of religious freedom. 

Hamner didn’t explain what the Constitution has to do with the reading and math scores he cited or what he meant about keeping children in school.  

Thompson muted the live recording and abruptly called for a five-minute recess, during which Hamner continued to argue with Miller and Hilt, according to a district official who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. 

While district security was able to de-escalate the situation, the district official expressed worry that people would be afraid to attend school board meetings because of this behavior.

“I think it’s worth shining a light on just exactly how crazy it has gotten so that these people are not only disconnected from any objective reality, but they are behaving in these threatening ways and making people feel unsafe,” the official said.

When asked about Hamner’s disturbance during the meeting, District 49 Communications Director David Nancarrow said, “The safety of our campuses, buildings and public meeting areas is non-negotiable. We will remain proactive to ensure all visitors find safe environments every time they arrive at a D49 property.”

“We also clearly communicate our expectations and methods of maintaining decorum during BOE meetings. Those who choose to ignore our stated expectations are subject to removal from the meeting by a member of our safety and security team. Those who repeatedly disrupt the BOE proceedings or disregard our expectations may receive a notice of no trespass, which the district applies consistently to all district facilities and hosted events,” said Nancarrow.

Militia types at board meetings

The district official blames Ivy Liu, a former district board member who came under fire for quoting Hitler on social media, for bringing these “militia types” into school board meetings.

“This is Ivy Liu and the energy that she brings to it. She brought this guy in. He’s not the first militia type that we’ve had,” the official said. 

John “Tig” Tiegen, known for founding the right-wing militia group United American Defense Force, spoke during public comment at a district meeting in April 2023. Teigan also criticized Hilts, saying, “It’s time to get a superintendent who actually has leadership and who wants to stand up for the Constitution to protect our kids.”

In their remarks to the board, Tiegen and Hamner addressed the district’s reading and math proficiency rates derived from state test results, similar to Liu’s public comments and social media posts.

Screenshot from Facebook

Liu’s statement that D49’s reading and math scores are 20-25% lower than 12 years ago is misleading. Colorado began administering the Colorado Measures of Academic Success in 2016, making it impossible to compare prior results to today’s.