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Typically when students decide to cut out of class to “protest,” the school district excuses the behavior citing that such walkouts and protests are “student-led.” That’s what they say — the school and/or the district have no official involvement.

That’s what they say.

But it’s interesting — one thing they do.

It appears the Des Moines Public School District has an official photographer, likely someone being paid by the district — thus an employee paid by taxpayer dollars — capturing moments at these so-called “student-led” protests.

Here are some of the images captured by the DMPS photographer at the anti-gun rally held at the Capitol earlier this year:

And here the students make a stop in front of Terrace Hill with a message for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds:


After we saw these photos, which are posted publicly by the district — seemingly endorsing the messages conveyed — we contacted a person called Phil Roeder. Roeder is the communications director for the Des Moines Public Schools.

We emailed just submitted a basic inquiry:

“I noticed a district photographer attended student protests at Terrace Hill and the Capitol. I’m curious how this came about if the protests were student-led and if the photographer was paid to take photos at these political protests. Can you let me know who it was and how it was decided to have a district photographer at the protests? Thanks!”

Roeder hasn’t responded.

As I continued scrolling through photos, I realized it isn’t the first time Des Moines Public Schools had a photographer capture the scenes of a so-called “student-led” political protest.

In 2023, it was the protest against bill protecting kids from radical trans ideology:

Again, clearly a district photographer tagged along for the “student-led” protest. But this time, there was a tweet from Roeder that seemed to coincide with the “student-led” protest:

As you can see, Roeder endorsed the message.

“The kids are alright. And the kid (sic) are right.”

Roeder even adopts the language of the Left, calling the bills protecting kids from radical trans ideology “anti-LGBTQ.” And he doubled down just a few days later, adding “homophobic” to the description:

DMPS has no school today in honor of Islamic holiday Eid al-Fitr


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