Another FAIL By The School Board.

A few days ago we talked about the massive “fail” on the part of the Brevard School Board and their General Council in defending the unConstitutional rules on suppression of speech at School Board meetings.

One of the cases that was cited by the General Counsel was the case of Steinburg v. Chesterfield County Planning Comm’n.

The case is from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and being that Florida is in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the ruling does not directly apply to Florida. The General Counsel, in his response, stated that very fact for clarification when he wrote:

Steinburg is a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals case, but they cite the US Supreme Court’s decision in Good News Club for the holding, along with the Collinson case.

It appears that we dug a little deeper than the General Counsel in that the Steinberg decision references another case called Bach v. School Board. of the City of Virginia Beach.

In that case, a District Court overturned a rule that was used against one David Bach, who during a public meeting, spoke in front of the Virginia Beach School Board.

He used the allotted time to voice his concerns over the qualifications, performance, and conduct of certain named school officials, whom he alleged had a conflict of interest.

While Bach was not interrupted or told to sit down, he was later told by the Board that his actions were against the School Board policies by “instructing potential speakers to avoid ‘attacks or accusations regarding the honesty, character, integrity or other like personal attributes of any identified individual or group.'”

This is where the fun begins. The District Court held that the restriction on speech was unConstitutional. The School Board appealed, and that appeal was denied. The Fourth Circuit refused to take up the case, which left all of the lower rulings in place.

The First Amendment affords the broadest protection to political expression in order to sustain the unfettered interchange of ideas to bring about political and social change and promote the will of the people. Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 484, 77 S. Ct. 1304, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1498 (1957). The Supreme Court has repeatedly explained that “it is a prized American privilege to speak one’s mind, although not always with perfect good taste, on all public institutions, and this opportunity is to be afforded for vigorous advocacy no less than abstract discussion.” New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 269, 84 S. Ct. 710, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964). This includes the ability to question the fitness of the community leaders, including the administrative leaders in a school system, “especially in a forum created specifically to foster discussion about a community’s school system.” Leventhal, 973 F. Supp. at 958.

A policy that chills protected speech cannot stand. The Court FINDS that the contested provision in Bylaw 1-48 is unconstitutional as a prior restraint upon speech in a limited public forum.

Remember, the Brevard School Board has such a policy in place that prohibits people from making negative comments toward people, but allowing positive comments.

We had no idea that the School Board’s response was such a massive fail.

Seriously, how much of a failure is it to cite a case that directly contradicts what one is saying and relying on? Didn’t anyone read the case?

It is one thing when people disagree on interpretations of cases and the such, but here, the School Board’s General Counsel, in an attempt to bolster his clients’ unConstitutional rules and bylaws, cited a case that directly contradicts the very points he was trying to make.

Once again, the Bach case is out of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and does not directly apply to those of us in the Eleventh Circuit. However, we here at Raised on Hoecakes were not using the case to bolster our thoughts and opinions – the General Counsel for the Brevard School Board was using the case.

However, the irony and failure here is that the General Counsel cited a case that directly contradicts his statements and response to the School Board. We don’t know whether he did this because he was being deceitful, lazy or just ignorant. In many ways it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the General Counsel chose to back the unConstitutional provisions and rules of the Board instead of protecting the First Amendment rights of people.

School Board members and lawyers take an oath to protect the Constitution.

Here we see another example of elected officials and public servants failing to live up to that oath.

2 Responses to “Another FAIL By The School Board.”

  1. Thomas L Gaume Jr says:

    It’s alarming how the school board will use resources paid for by tax dollars in order to deem themselves as being correct.

    A lawyer will always come up with the opinion you’re looking for, as long as you’re the one paying them.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Thomas L. Gaume Jr,

      Thanks for the comment.

      We have long said that titles such as the Brevard School District Attorney, or [insert name of City, County or Town] Attorney are misleading.

      The attorneys do not represent the people, but rather a small number of people such as a City Council, School Board, etc.

      When you have attorneys who are more concerned with backing the opinions and rules of boards, council, and commissions rather than upholding the laws of the land and the Constitutions, that’s a problem for the people.

      For those boards, councils and commissions, it is not a bug, it is a feature.

      Thanks again.