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ADF sends letter to Prince William County Public Schools explaining violations of board regulations, First Amendment

Attorney sound bite:  Caleb Dalton

MANASSAS, Va. – Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Tuesday to Prince William County Public Schools that asks it to allow pro-student-privacy speakers to participate equally in a board meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. EDT after the district’s board chairman illegitimately stacked the speaker list. The chairman placed those of the opposite position, which he favors, first and bumped others to the end of the meeting after the board votes.

The district is considering a proposed rule which would disregard student privacy rights and likely lead to the opening of sex-specific locker rooms, showers, and other such facilities to members of the opposite sex.

“Any school board official does a disservice to his cause and community by attempting to marginalize the community voices who disagree with him, stack the deck in his favor, and push those who hold different opinions to the back of the line,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton. “School boards have a duty to make it possible for people on both sides of an issue to be heard. Not only does the First Amendment require this, but in this case, the board’s own regulations require it as well. We are asking the board to ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard on an equal basis at tonight’s board meeting.”

As the ADF letter explains, the chairman ordered the board’s clerk via text message to act in violation of the board’s own regulations and the U.S. Constitution by replacing citizens who signed up through the clerk’s office to speak during citizen comment time with speakers who have contacted, or were selected by, the chairman.

The ADF letter details that board “Regulation 133-1 II(B) states that ‘[s]peakers shall be placed on a list in the order in which they notify the Clerk.’ The Chairman’s text to the Clerk orders her to put fourteen names ‘at the top of the list for 6/21.’ These speakers did not follow the proper procedures of contacting the Clerk. Thus, the Chairman’s direction to place them above citizens that did follow the proper procedures violates Regulation 133-1 II(B)….”

“In order to avoid liability, the Board should immediately enforce the plain meaning of Regulation 133-1 II(B) which requires that speakers be afforded a platform to speak in the order in which they contacted the Clerk,” the ADF letter continues. “For the June 21, 2017 meeting and all further meetings, the speakers should be ordered according to the chronology in which they contacted the Clerk. Additionally, the Board should conduct a review of its policies to ensure that the Chairman is not granted unbridled discretion to favor or disfavor speech or speakers based on viewpoint. Any such grant of discretion must be limited by content and viewpoint neutral criteria.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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