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Liberty Movement Rallies to Goldwater’s Side In Defense of Dad’s Right to Record Government

May 17, 2024

Organizations in the liberty movement are rallying to the Goldwater Institute’s side in defense of a Boston-area dad’s right to record a meeting with public school officials about his son’s education. Goldwater has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case, which began after those officials tried to arbitrarily remove critically important services from Scott Pitta’s 17-year-old son J.J., who has special needs.

It all started when the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District in Massachusetts unilaterally terminated a Google Meet video conference about J.J. after Scott stated he was recording the meeting—which he had promised to do in emails leading up to that meeting. That’s a violation of Scott’s First Amendment right to record government officials. And it also harms the ability of parents to ensure their children receive an adequate education.

J.J.’s individualized education program, or IEP, details the special services he needs to receive to achieve his goals of going to college and becoming a veterinarian. But in early 2022, district officials attempted to take those services away from J.J.—only to acknowledge in a pair of virtual meetings with J.J.’s parents that they had no good reason to do so. What’s more, officials admitted that teachers whose evaluation concluded that J.J. needed special education services were asked to “double-check” their evaluation but those whose first evaluation concluded that he did not require services were not asked to “double-check.”

But refusing to allow parents to record a meeting with government officials about their own child in their own home violates the First Amendment. And parents have not only a fundamental right under the Constitution to control and direct their children’s education, but also have a high duty and a responsibility to ensure their children receive an adequate education.

Scott is now suing the school district with Goldwater’s help. And recently, the Liberty Justice Center, the Center for American Liberty, and the Equal Protection Project all filed briefs with the Supreme Court urging it to take up Goldwater’s petition for writ of certiorari.

As the Center for American Liberty explained, the First Circuit appeals court ruling that Goldwater is appealing “drastically departs from First Amendment principles and the general First Amendment jurisprudence of this Court to substantially restrict the ability of citizens to gather and disseminate information about public officials’ conduct.” The Liberty Justice Center likewise encouraged the Supreme Court to take the case and affirm the central premise of Goldwater’s petition: “the First Amendment most obviously and importantly protects the recording of public employees performing public functions in particular.” Finally, the Equal Protection Project pointed out that the First Circuit ruling will only encourage schools to continue fighting against parents and prevent them from accessing critical information about school policies and practices.

Unfortunately, public schools across the country are doing just that: infringing on parents’ rights as they seek to usurp parents’ role in raising their kids. But Goldwater is leading the nation in helping moms and dads fight back. Goldwater’s landmark Academic Transparency law shines a light on what’s really happening in public school districts by requiring them to post their learning materials online, the Institute’s Ask Your School Now tool empowers parents to file effective public records requests when the government still tries keeping secrets, and Goldwater’s American Freedom Network of pro bono attorneys stands ready to help parents fight for their rights in court.

The Goldwater Institute thanks the Liberty Justice Center, the Center for American Liberty, and the Equal Protection Project for their support in this important fight. And we pledge never to back down in the fight to empower parents, not public school bureaucrats.

You can read more about this case here.

Adam Shelton is a Staff Attorney at the Goldwater Institute.

 

 

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