A model of this text was initially revealed in The Day by day Transient, our Maine politics e-newsletter. Join right here for each day information and perception from politics editor Michael Shepherd.
One of many themes in nationwide conservative politics over the previous few years has been the backlash to academic insurance policies on LGBTQ and different points, and Maine has seen this play out domestically.
Final 12 months, the Hampden-area college district paid a settlement to conservative activist Shawn McBreairty after making an attempt to ban him from conferences. Within the November election, Windham will vote on an ordinance permitting recollects of native officers that was prompted by strife earlier than the college board. Tiny Sorrento shot down the same ordinance after a dispute over college library books.
Many districts are actually altering their insurance policies round public-comment intervals, one thing that the Solar Journal and Morning Sentinel checked out in an in-depth piece on the problem over the weekend that referred to as consideration to free-speech considerations. Among the many objects at concern is a 2019 regulation that made colleges take public remark.
The context: The Maine Faculty Administration Affiliation, which represents superintendents and faculty boards, has stated districts ought to take into account expressly prohibiting offensive speech and complaints about particular academics and college students at conferences. Many districts have already got insurance policies like this, a evaluate by the newspapers discovered. One district goes as far to say that solely optimistic feedback needs to be allowed.
The central determine motivating these modifications is McBreairty. He has referred to particular academics in public and is combating lawsuits filed in opposition to him by the Hampden- and Hermon-area college districts. The Hermon go well with got here after he referred to a instructor a “sexual predator,” one thing a choose dominated earlier this 12 months was said as truth but was unsupported.
It was a 2019 regulation sponsored by a Democrat that made Maine college districts put aside time for feedback firstly of conferences however permits boards to set “closing dates and conduct requirements.” It handed simply with help from the Maine Training Affiliation, which cited examples of academics being lower off from talking on sure points in public.
The superintendents group referred to as the regulation pointless after it was proposed, since nearly all districts allowed remark. Now that group is saying the vagueness of the regulation led it to craft its draft coverage. Some free-speech teams advised the Solar Journal and Morning Sentinel that reining in remark in these sorts of the way could also be unconstitutional.
What’s subsequent: These strains for varsity boards are obscure, and they’re prone to be settled in court docket selections out and in of Maine, together with the upcoming ones involving McBreairty. Whereas the 2019 regulation was not marked by politics, any future dialogue within the Legislature is prone to be. It signifies that there could also be no decision right here for some time.