After sending cease-and-desist letter the school district now considers the matter “closed”
The News: The Oconomowoc Area School District (OASD) announced that despite issuing a cease-and-desist letter threatening a defamation lawsuit to local parent and activist, Alexandra Schweitzer, the District now considers the “issue closed.” The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) sent a letter to OASD attorneys in mid-June, on behalf of Ms. Schweitzer, explaining that her public statements do not meet the legal standard for defamation and that her speech is protected by the First Amendment. The OASD statement indicates there will be no forthcoming legal action against Ms. Schweitzer.
The Quotes: WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg, said, “By declaring the matter ‘closed,’ the District appears to have dropped its threat to sue Alexandra for criticizing the District. It’s a shame the District continues to accuse her of spreading misinformation while refusing to explain what it might be or responding to our letter explaining the basis for her statements, but this is still the right outcome and the result we hoped for. Parents should be free to comment on their experiences with their kids’ schools.”
Alexandra Schweitzer said, “As a mom and volunteer community leader, I spent months communicating directly with the district to ask questions. Instead of getting answers, they sent me a cease-and-desist letter and accused me of spreading misinformation. I can only hope that the district will no longer participate in these bully tactics and instead, engage with parents on the education of our children.”
Dr. Elana Fishbein, Founder & President, No Left Turn in Education, said, “We don’t bow to bullies. The district’s intimidation tactics won’t hide the truth. And their inability to answer to Alexandra’s accusations speaks volumes.”
Background: Over the past year, Alexandra Schweitzer, of Oconomowoc, Wis., raised concerns about age-inappropriate materials, both available for children to access and being used in the classroom, without proper parental notification. After enrolling her children elsewhere, Alexandra continued to be an advocate and resource for local parents regarding their concerns. As volunteer President of No Left Turn in Education – Wisconsin, Schweitzer voiced her concerns, and those of district parents, in public forums and in testimony before the Wisconsin legislature.
On May 13, attorneys for the Oconomowoc Area School District School Board issued a cease-and-desist letter to Schweitzer threatening legal action if she does not revoke public statements she made about classroom material and access to inappropriate material. At issue are a series of comments Schweitzer made about the availability of certain inappropriate books to students of all ages through the school’s library app, inadequate parental notification about the use of a book in an eighth-grade classroom with controversial themes, and statements about her communications with the school district and the school board president.
WILL issued a letter to the Oconomowoc Area School District’s attorneys, on behalf of Alexandra Schweitzer, on June 16, making clear that her public statements do not meet the legal standard for defamation and that her speech is protected by the First Amendment. WILL’s letter made clear that Ms. Schweitzer would not be revoking her statements.
The Oconomowoc Area School District issued a statement on June 28, declaring the matter “closed.”