School parents in California could soon face jail time for speaking out on behalf of their children at school board meetings. State lawmakers are considering a bill to criminalise any adult who disrupts or creates “substantial disorder” at board meetings or in and around schools.
Under the bill, it would be a misdemeanor for a parent, guardian, or another person to interfere with “a school employee’s daily life away from a school site or after school hours for reasons related to the employee’s course of duties.” It adds that adults cannot materially disrupt “classwork or extracurricular activities” or cannot be involved in substantial disorder at any “meeting of the governing board of a school district, the governing body of a charter school, a county board of education, or the state board.”
The bill was amended to change the meaning of harassment from lawful violence or a credible threat of violence to a school employee to now being defined as “torments, or terrorises the person.” After two violations, an offender could face a hefty fine or a year in jail. The State Senate has already passed the bill.
Legal experts say it aims to muzzle parents and stop them from speaking out and communicating or questioning elected officials including members of a school board. CBN News reports board meetings have always been a place where parents could voice concerns about curriculum. It adds that in recent years they’ve become more volatile amid mounting frustration over the sexualisation of children and LGBT ideology in schools.
The Christian broadcaster reports parent’s rights groups are being seen as a threat, with the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center labelling them as “extremist hate groups.” In one case the FBI interviewed a mother who belonged to the group Moms for Liberty for reportedly telling a school board: “We are coming for you.” The mother told investigators she was just warning school officials that they could be replaced in an upcoming election, but an FBI whistleblower claimed she was a threat because she is a gun owner and a member of a right-wing mothers’ group.” They’re just sort of getting fed up in some cases with feeling like they don’t have control over what’s happening with their children,” Dr. Neal McCluskey, the director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, told CBN News.
Parents have a right to express themselves under the protections of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, but California mother Kelly Schenkoske, told the Daily Signal, she fears the state’s new bill will slowly take away those rights. “Their work over the years to erode parental involvement and rights has been noticed by parents who will stand courageously to speak for the protection of their children and for a better education,” she asserted.
Matt McReynolds, deputy chief counsel at the Pacific Justice Institute, agreed. “I would certainly agree that the bill targets conservative parents who have been energised and re-engaging at the school board level. It’s not just speaking at school board meetings; this would criminalise sending emails that seriously annoy or alarm school employees,” he explained to the Daily Signal.
“In nearly all other areas, our state leaders are stressing decriminalisation and have released thousands of dangerous offenders back into our communities. The rhetoric about mass incarceration and over-criminalisation goes out the window when they’re going after their political enemies. And in the school setting itself, our legislators are moving to reduce the ability of teachers and administrators to punish kids for defiance, disruption, and disorder. The hypocrisy is unmistakable,” Mr. McReynolds proclaimed.