Charter school parents gathered in front of Aquaculture School yesterday evening to hold a press conference on their concerns over the district’s possible decision to sue the state over the two new charter approved earlier this year.
That is until they were asked to leave school premises. Why? Because they dare be in favor of charter schools.
Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Safety, Security and School Climate Shively Willingham did the asking, because, according to Willingham, the press is not allowed to film in front of any Bridgeport public schools.
Oddly enough, this doesn’t block media from filming inside schools.
Of course, this doesn’t make any sense. There have been countless rallies and press conferences in front of the Aquaculture school, including CEA-sponsored events — who were not asked to move their rally.
BEA Holding a rally outside the Aquaculture School before the December 9th BOE meeting
In fact, during the entire year since I started reporting from board meetings, there has never been a problem with media filming in front of schools
It seems the district only cracks down on charter school parents, blocking them from speaking.
Remember when the board voted to pass a resolution against charter schools? Suddenly the board chair decided she would follow the 30 minute rule for public comments, despite never really following it before. This blocked several parents from speaking.
Is that a violation of their First Amendment rights? Is this in fact a pattern of First Amendment violations?
According to organizers and the school director, the event was OKed by the school administration. In addition, I could not find any statement in the board’s policy that explicitly blocked filming at schools.
The closest I came to a written statement was the district’s News Media Relationships policy which states: “The principal has the right to restrict interaction of media personnel with students on school property if he /she deems it interferes or disrupts the educational process.”
Ultimately, the board did not listen to parents anyway, voting in 5-4 in favor of spending between $4,500 and $9,000 to pay an attorney to research a possible lawsuit against the state.
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