Friday, August 25, 2006

Snorting at the Mad Dad

The Mad Dad's recreational bitterness got its expected challenge from the Lexington Schools. The Lexington Minuteman covers the request to dismiss the case by two couples claiming that the school system violated their civil rights by indoctrinating their children.

You may recall the risible, nay plain dumb, case. We have surely given it far more electrons than it deserves. However, it continues to illustrate how some extreme right-wingers want to control public education for their political and religious ends.
  • Read about the lawsuit here.
  • Read about the horror, the horror of not being able to dictate curriculum and classroom discussion here.
  • Weep at the transgressions detailed in the lawsuit.
  • Nod off over the short (3-page PDF) but legalese-laden motion to dismiss.
Through law firm Anderson & Krieger, the schools asked the federal court to dismiss the case before trial as being without merit. As the article describes the motion:
The town motion, which was filed last Tuesday, stated staff at the Estabrook school did "not unreasonably interfere with or place an unlawful burden on the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights" further adding the "legitimate governmental interest in providing an appropriate public education to all school-age children ... outweighs plaintiffs’ rights to tailor the public school curriculum to suit their personal morals or beliefs."
The original suit against the Lexington Public Schools alleged the schools practiced "indoctrination techniques" which violated the families’ rights to exercise free religion, violated their civil rights by using "threats, intimidation and coercion," violated the Massachusetts "opt-out" statute which allows parents to remove their children from discussions about human sexuality and the town "conspired to deprive the plaintiffs of their due process rights."
The motion is to dismiss all four counts. Kevin Bott, assistant town counsel, said, "No court has ever said parents have the right to tell the public schools what should be in the curriculum." State and local boards have always managed that, not individual control freaks, we add.

The motion to dismiss cites a series of related cases for precedence, asking for dismissal on each allegation. In addition, it cites three cases that it claims provide the individual defendants in the administration and board with immunity against civil rights claims.

Also, the opt-out law (Massachusetts Chapter 71, Section 32A) that the anti-same-sex marriage forces love to cite "does not create a private right of action enforceable by the plaintiffs."

In brief, the motion to dismiss says the allegations offer no basis for relief. If the judge agrees, the Mad Dad and his dear companions may be left to pout and rant in their living rooms. Lackaday.

If you have been out of the cycle and want to see the full background, check out the 57-page PDF file of the material that supports the motion for dismissal. We can thank the Parker supporters at Article 8/Massresistance for posting the whole thingummy.

The four parents have representation from Denner O'Malley, a firm that has a mouth-dropping set of client types in its regular practice. Neil Tassel form the firm expects to file his response early next month. Afterward, the judge can decide to dismiss or schedule a trial.

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