What to do: Gilford School Board Stonewalls a Right-to-Know Demand - The Result (with a whimper) - Granite Grok

What to do: Gilford School Board Stonewalls a Right-to-Know Demand – The Result (with a whimper)

Gilford School District

2+2 = 5

I never did get a response back from Superindent Beitler…But I DID get a response at the next School Board Policy Committee meeting!

Government coercing speech and thought over gender dysphoria – the Gilford School Board example. It all started with this:

and just like that, it ended with this:

C. Names/Pronouns

A student under this policy should be addressed by a name or pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school

No assumption of a Power, no assuming it could grant Rights, and the Gilford School Board gave up on the idea that others must use the School Board’s coerced speech and coerced thought pattern when speaking to or about someone suffering from gender dysphoria.  No more threat, at least for now, of being in violation of a policy that would accept an “infinite number of pronouns“.

In other words, we had a School Board that decided it could do things it can’t.  It solely relied on the NH School Board Association for its policy – who has gotten it WRONG since 2008. Imagine that – 11 years and NO ONE else caught this? And then SAU 73 (Gilford School District) compounded it by not even doing it’s due diligence with its own Counsel. Oh wait – we HAVE the lawyer’s invoices!

There are 17 to 18 (that I know of) School Districts that have put this into place.  Not all of them have the original Guidance C as above but I’m betting some of them do. Your’s?  Perfect situation to confront them on this. After all, this isn’t about gender dysphoria / Transgenderism – it’s about Good Government. Openness and Transparency and following the Law.

After all, nobody is above the Law, we keep being told. It’s one of the things that schools teach, right?  Or do they, anymore? Sure, I had to either ask at School Board meetings or issue six Right To Know demands on pretty much the same theme:

List the authorizing legislation that gives you, a subdivision of a Dillon’s Rule State, the Power to grant a new Right that causes legal Obligations on others?

To this day, I have received no formal answer. That said, once I started to threaten to take them to Superior Court for blowing off my RTKs (they either forgot or didn’t realize that RSA 91:A just isn’t a way to get information out of Government that it otherwise wouldn’t cough up but also outlines Violations (emphasis mine):

 91-A:7 Violation. – Any person aggrieved by a violation of this chapter may petition the superior court for injunctive relief. In order to satisfy the purposes of this chapter, the courts shall give proceedings under this chapter high priority on the court calendar. Such a petitioner may appear with or without counsel. The petition shall be deemed sufficient if it states facts constituting a violation of this chapter, and may be filed by the petitioner or his or her counsel with the clerk of court or any justice thereof. Thereupon the clerk of court or any justice shall order service by copy of the petition on the person or persons charged. Subject to objection by either party, all documents filed with the petition and any response thereto shall be considered as evidence by the court. All documents submitted shall be provided to the opposing party prior to a hearing on the merits. When any justice shall find that time probably is of the essence, he or she may order notice by any reasonable means, and he or she shall have authority to issue an order ex parte when he or she shall reasonably deem such an order necessary to insure compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

and Remedies:

91-A:8 Remedies. –
I. If any public body or public agency or officer, employee, or other official thereof, violates any provisions of this chapter, such public body or public agency shall be liable for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred in a lawsuit under this chapter, provided that the court finds that such lawsuit was necessary in order to enforce compliance with the provisions of this chapter or to address a purposeful violation of this chapter. Fees shall not be awarded unless the court finds that the public body, public agency, or person knew or should have known that the conduct engaged in was in violation of this chapter or if the parties, by agreement, provide that no such fees shall be paid.
II. The court may award attorney’s fees to a public body or public agency or employee or member thereof, for having to defend against a lawsuit under the provisions of this chapter, when the court finds that the lawsuit is in bad faith, frivolous, unjust, vexatious, wanton, or oppressive.
III. The court may invalidate an action of a public body or public agency taken at a meeting held in violation of the provisions of this chapter, if the circumstances justify such invalidation.
IV. If the court finds that an officer, employee, or other official of a public body or public agency has violated any provision of this chapter in bad faith, the court shall impose against such person a civil penalty of not less than $250 and not more than $2,000. Upon such finding, such person or persons may also be required to reimburse the public body or public agency for any attorney’s fees or costs it paid pursuant to paragraph I. If the person is an officer, employee, or official of the state or of an agency or body of the state, the penalty shall be deposited in the general fund. If the person is an officer, employee, or official of a political subdivision of the state or of an agency or body of a political subdivision of the state, the penalty shall be payable to the political subdivision.
V. The court may also enjoin future violations of this chapter, and may require any officer, employee, or other official of a public body or public agency found to have violated the provisions of this chapter to undergo appropriate remedial training, at such person or person’s expense.

I reminded them, at several meetings, that RSA 91:A had these provisions to FORCE them to answer by taking them to Superior Court as allowed by the above.  The first time it was clear they didn’t know. Subsequent times only produced anger. In fact, one of the School Board members, Rae Mello-Andrews told me that she resented that I was threatening her and the School Board with legal actions. I retorted that I resented them not following the Law and that if they had simply followed said Law and answered my questions when asked, fully and completely, I wouldn’t have needed to threaten such action as my Right under the Law.  Pesky thing, that Law. She was not convinced. Or amused.

That said, that was said after a School Board Policy Committee meeting after my previous attempts in getting answers. What DID happen DURING the meeting was, to my surprise, is that it was suggested that the whole original text of Guidance C be replace, essentially, with “should“. Thinking at the time that it removes the worst evil of it (a governmental entity assuming Powers that do not belong to it) and that “SHOULD” is now the equivalent of “MAY”  (as opposed to “SHALL” – a specific word compelling a certain action in all cases vs “MAY” with denotes a voluntary action), I nodded in assent.

The change both removes an implicit “shall” with the stipulation of both coerced speech and thought in regards with interacting with students / staff suffering gender dysphoria.

Now, does this mean that speech will be, indeed, free at Gilford schools in this regard?  If one only looks at the changes above, the answer could be a qualified “yes”. “Should” connotes a degree of voluntary action – one may, or one may not participate in a suggested manner.

However, is there yet another booby-trap still ensconced in this policy?

Perhaps.  Perhaps this is not the entire result that was hoped for but merely a shifting of the Government desired speech under a different part further down in Policy JBAB (emphasis mine):

J. Discrimination/Harassment

It is the responsibility of each school and the District to ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming students have a safe school environment. This includes ensuring that any incident of discrimination, harassment, or violence is given immediate attention, including investigating the incident, taking appropriate corrective action, and providing students and staff with appropriate resources, see Gilford School Board Policy JBAA. Complaints alleging discrimination, harassment or bullying based on a person’s actual or perceived transgender status or gender nonconformity are to be handled in the same manner as other discrimination, harassment or bullying complaints.

Refer to policy AC, JBAA, and/or JICK

Well, I did so and will explain my concerns in the next post.

BTW, let me put this out there – during a “Meet the new Public Works Director” meet and greet, Superintendent Beitler said, during some “small talk” that happens at such meetings, that the number one goal of the District was safe schools.

I thought that quite odd; I’ve always thought that it was to do what we pay our employees to do – teach our kids the basics and do that responsibility well.

Very curious – and another set of posts to come, I think.