How your First Amendment rights may supersede cease and desist orders

April 15 – When a substitute teacher (and parent of four children in the district) received a cease and desist order from the South Middleton School Board in Boiling Springs, Pa., because he questioned the teaching of Critical Race Theory, he fought back.

The teacher got his own legal counsel and the school district came up against a pretty big opponent – the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The cease and desist order was rescinded and the case was settled.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the issue this morning on First News.

Barkdoll said, “You have attorneys that are sending these (cease and desist) letters. They know this would never stand in court. People have the right to come to a public meeting and make statements and ask questions. That’s classic protected, First Amendment activity. They can pretty much ask and say anything they want. And it’s remarkable to me that a solicitor through the authorization of a school board would send a cease and desist letter. They know they would lose that case if it would ever go into court.”

It happened in the Chambersburg Area School District, too, when Valerie Jordan, a citizen and tax payer asked too many questions and received a cease and desist letter.

And CASD hired an outside law firm, despite having an in-house solicitor, on the taxpayers’ pocketbook.

“Isn’t this about intimidation?” Jansen asked. “The average person doesn’t know. They see a cease and desist letter. It looks very legal. It looks like I’m in big trouble if I defy it. Maybe I’ll get charged. This is really scary to think that this is happening in multiple school districts.”

There have even been stories of people losing their job for questioning Critical Race Theory.

What is going on?

“It might be a way to chill public comment,” Barkdoll suggested. “They know this is not legal, but they’ll issue these letters as a way to deter people from coming to a meeting and saying something.”

“You need to plow through,” Ryan added.