Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Board of Education reneges on written agreement

As if foreshadowing any future agreement with Seven Locks parents and neighbors, the Montgomery County Board of Education has reneged on a written agreement that it made after losing a federal court case to parents concerning objectionable curriculum.

A local newspaper accuses the school board of threatening freedom of speech by censoring views of parents it doesn't like.

The Washington Examiner says of the board members in an editorial, "Despite their written agreement to seat one member of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum on their 15-member sex-ed advisory committee, they stubbornly refuse to comply."

Regardless of whether Seven Locks parents agree with the county sex-ed program, the county's behavior has ramifications for the Seven Locks/Kendale controversy. It underscores what many see as county school officials' malicious and possibly illegal behavior toward parents and PTA chapters who question or challenge them.

According to the Examiner, "In May, the grassroots group filed a successful federal lawsuit that derailed MoCo's controversial sex-ed pilot program. CRC members are now saying that they should be the ones to choose their own representative on the panel, not hostile board members. It's a valid point with implications extending far beyond the present issue.

"That was precisely the conclusion of the lawsuit. A judge appointed by President Clinton went so far as to issue a temporary restraining order while blasting the blatant 'viewpoint discrimination' in the proposed curriculum, which board members had unanimously approved.

"Soon afterward, Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast suspended the $1 million pilot program altogether and it was back to the drawing board. . . .

"'The wisdom of approving a curriculum which prohibits students from discussing one viewpoint of a controversial subject goes to the very essences of ... the First Amendment,' Judge Williams added. He's right. Freedom of speech is really what's at stake here."