MADISON — The Oconomowoc Area School District is backing down on its threat to sue a mom for her public criticisms that the school system is teaching and making age-inappropriate content available to students.
“We consider this issue closed, and we do not anticipate any further comment on this matter. Please know our district is committed to moving forward, continuing to deliver on a high-value education for students and our community,” the district stated in a message on its website.
OASD officials continue to insist they sent a cease-and-desist letter to parent and conservative activist Alexandra Schweitzer because of “misinformation,” but the district stopped its legal threats after the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty warned OASD attorneys that they were walking on shaky legal ground.
“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,” said Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel of the Milwaukee-based civil rights law firm. “Parents should be free to comment on their experiences with their kids’ schools.”
As Wisconsin Spotlight recently reported, district officials took offense with Schweitzer speaking out about the woke agenda materials accessible to children and being used in the classroom — without proper parental notification. She became so frustrated, she removed her children from the public school and enrolled them in a charter school. But Schweitzer continues to speak out.
As 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.
“We discovered that one of the books, the Gender Quest Workbook, coaches kids that gender is ‘a whole spectrum of possibilities’ and encourages them to question their gender identity,” she wrote on her website. “I was mortified to find out that, a year earlier, my then-5th grade daughter was also exposed to another book called It’s Perfectly Normal, which targets kids as young as ten. It describes sex acts, even providing graphic illustrations that clearly violate the will of the parents and blur the legal lines put in place to protect children. The presence of such books in school is unacceptable.”
Attorneys representing the district accused Schweitzer of making “false and defamatory statements … distributed to numerous parents and community members” through her organization’s website. They claim Schweitzer knew one of the publications in question is “mentor text available only to teachers for checkout and use in instruction and that only small portions of the text were read aloud for the purpose of critical thinking and writing craft.” They also claim other texts Schweitzer deemed inappropriate are not available to district students in the library for checkout, “nor are they used in the District’s curriculum.”
WILL notes in its warning letter, however, that the titles were accessible through student Chromebooks.
“Upon reviewing the Sora (student reading app) on her son’s Chromebook, Ms. Schweitzer found several questionable books available to students without any parental or teacher oversight,” WILL’s letter states. The law firm also takes issue with the district’s characterization of the so-called “mentor text.”
Schweitzer said district officials refused to communicate with her about the questionable educational content.
“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,” she said in a release from WILL. “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.”
Elana Fishbein, founder and president of No Left Turn in Education, said her organization doesn’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,” she said.