California MassResistance parents defy School Board attempts to stop them from testifying on critical topics.
School Board’s attorney gives flawed interpretation of state law to silence parents. But MassResistance corrects him and parents speak!
January 22, 2024
Around the country, school officials have been reacting to outraged parents speaking out during the public comment sections of school board meetings by devising ways to silence them. But MassResistance helps parents circumvent that!
As we recently reported, in Norwalk and La Mirada, suburbs of Los Angeles, parents have been complaining bitterly for the past year about a toxic “well-being center” in their local high school staffed with Planned Parenthood-trained people. According to parents, students are being referred to abortion clinics and transgender clinics.
The parents organized a California MassResistance chapter to demand that the Norwalk-La Miranda School Board shut down the “well-being” center. At meeting after meeting, parents came to persuade the board to act. The board reacted arrogantly and dismissed their complaints. But the parents are refusing to give up.
Then at the September 25, 2023 school board meeting, the school officials took action to silence them. Most of the parents are working-class minority citizens who are not well-versed in how California law (and the First Amendment) protects them. Luckily, our National Field Director, Arthur Schaper, was there to support them!
Officials attempt to ban signs in the meeting
At the entrance to the building where the school board was meeting, police officers confronted parents who were bringing in posters. The police told them that they could not take the posters into the building.
Arthur stepped up and firmly informed the officers that it was a First Amendment right – and that parents have always been allowed to bring signs and posters into these meetings. The police backed down and let the parents proceed.
Officials try to ban discussion about the well-being centers during public comment
But that was just the beginning. As parents were entering the meeting room, the school attorney was standing at the doorway. He told everyone as they came in that they could only talk about “school district business” during the public comment session. They could not talk about the well-being center or issues related to it such as abortion, or gender-reassignment surgeries – because those topics were not school district business, he said.
But Arthur countered the attorney’s claim with the well-known California law (the “Brown Act”) that allows members of the public to discuss any issue falling within the jurisdiction of the specific governing board – whether or not it’s “school district business” or on the agenda.
54954.3. (a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by subdivision (b) of Section 54954.2.
The high school’s well-being center and the issues it addresses with students are unquestionably in the school board’s jurisdiction. But the attorney insisted that he was right and that parents “do not have a right” to discuss issues that are not current “school district business.”
Arthur made sure that the parents were not intimidated by the school attorney’s warning.
Just before the public comment session began, the school attorney again spoke to the entire room. He reiterated his warning to the parents that they could not discuss topics that weren’t on that meeting’s agenda. He said:
There's no agenda item on the well-being center. There's no agenda item on abortion. There's no agenda item on gender-affirming surgery or gender-affirming therapy. Those are not on the agenda. So we need to keep our discussion to district business.
It was shocking that a school attorney would make such a statement.
The parents speak out!
Thanks to Arthur (and despite the efforts of the school board and their attorney) the parents were not intimidated! When they got up to speak, they made it clear that they were going to exercise their rights under California state law and the First Amendment. The parents continued voicing their outrage and demanding that the well-being center be shut down.
The attorney just sat there and said nothing because neither he nor any other official had the authority to stop them.
Now more than ever, dishonest public officials are trying to harass and intimidate parents with legal disinformation and phony threats. MassResistance is dedicated to making sure parents know their rights – and exercise them boldly.
We hope that this encourages everyone to keep speaking the truth and standing up fearlessly for children and parents.
Please help us continue to do our uncompromising work!
Our successes depend on people like you.
Your support will make the difference!