Report finds school boards becoming increasingly restrictive of parents’ speech

Concerned parents who’ve made their voices heard are increasingly facing a new obstacle as school boards across the country take measures to preserve their agendas.

“Do I think we have an obligation to have the same personal attacks be made week after week, year after year? No.”

Whether stemming from Marxist, ideologue-driven curriculum, gender-bending privacy disputes, or age-inappropriate, often pornographic, materials being made accessible in school libraries, fed-up parents have been noticeably pushing back against the leftist actions of their local school boards. However, viral videos of moms and dads dressing down public officials or deservedly embarrassing them by reading graphic excerpts from “approved literature” haven’t necessarily made them change their ways as reports of limiting those forums have also grown.

As the Washington Post reported Tuesday: “Across a polarized nation, governing bodies are restricting — and sometimes even halting — public comment to counter what elected officials describe as an unprecedented level of invective, misinformation and disorder from citizens when they step to the microphone. As contentious social issues roil once-sleepy town council and school board gatherings, some officials say allowing people to have their say is poisoning meetings and thwarting the ability to get business done.”

References were made to changes in policy like that of a school board in Greeley, Colorado where speakers’ approved times had been cut from four to three and, ultimately, only two minutes as some members called to tyrannically end public comment altogether.

So out of hand have the diktats of school boards become that even the typically left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had stepped in with a brief in support of a Massachusetts state Supreme Court challenge to the town of Southborough’s select board barring public statements at meetings.

ACLU Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose told the Post, “Access to public meetings and that face-to-face, whether virtual or in-person, opportunity for the citizenry to talk to their elected officials is foundational to our democracy.”

Whether it be a dad in Florida having his mic cut for reading a book from the school library that details the rape of a college girl, Muslims and Christians joining together in Michigan to express outrage over books promoting homosexuality to their young children, or a newly-elected state senator in Idaho having a meeting adjourned as he spoke out against boys in the girls’ locker rooms, repeated examples have shown school boards to be without remorse for the wishes of parents.

That trend continued as Rochester Mayor Kim Norton, herself a former school board member, expressed, “I’m not denigrating the concept of acknowledging true questions our community has. That’s vital. That’s what I’ve spent my entire adult life doing.”

“Do I think we have an obligation to have the same personal attacks be made week after week, year after year?” she asked. “No.”

Similarly, the National School Boards Association’s chief legal officer Francisco Negron appeared to try to have it both ways as voiced time and topic limits and even a reduction in open forum meetings were fine while he recognized, “If a person is impassioned, a person is loud, a person is visibly shaken, those things are all okay in the public sphere, as long as there’s no actual physical safety threat.”

“It’s democracy,” he added. “Everybody in this country has the right to their opinion.”

At a Rochester City Council meeting, one citizen, identified as Othelmo da Silva, was captured on video pointing out the failure of Negron and Norton’s position and said, “You are supposed to be servants of the people. You should be here to listen to us for as long as you need to because we are technically your bosses.”

The point from da Silva encapsulated not only the importance of paying attention to local politics but the need for more concerned citizens to actively involve themselves and oust those who have been corrupting the system for their own ends.

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Kevin Haggerty

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