Censoring History in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
by Shari Dovale
When a school board trustee wants to erase history, what is a parent to do?
One North Idaho man decided to call out the entire school board and ask them to take a stand on their trustee’s public statements.
Jeremy Morris is a Coeur d’Alene father that is not happy with the idea of erasing history:
School Board Trustee Tom (“book-burner”) Hearn, wants to remove monuments and references to the Confederate War Dead. He wants to censor history. And yet he is vested with the power of educating our children! When I applied to speak at the next school board meeting regarding this censorship, incredibly, the Board CENSORED ME! –refusing to allow public comment about Mr. Hearn’s remarks. ~Jeremy Morris
Redoubt News attended this event with Mr. Morris. Here he is explaining the protest:
Appalled at the thought of censoring history, Morris applied to be placed on the next meeting agenda. He received this letter in response (emphasis added):
“Dear Mr. Morris,
We have reviewed and considered your request to be placed on the agenda for the Coeur d’Alene School District No. 271 (“District”) Board meeting currently scheduled for September 11, 2017. It is our understanding that you want to address some comments that were made by Trustee Hearn in his personal capacity on social media and how that might influence his decision making.
Pursuant to Board Policy 1500P, individuals who wish to be on the Board’s agenda to address the Board must make such request in writing. See also Policy 4105P. Participation by the public is at the sole discretion of the Board. Even if the District does not include an individual on the agenda to address the Board, the Policies also recognize that citizens wishing to make comments about school programs, procedures or other items that are on the agenda can follow the established procedure for public comment and input at Board meetings.
For public comment at Board meetings, Procedure 4105 makes clear that public comment may be taken on District-related items. In general, speakers will be allowed one opportunity to address the Board and will be limited to three minutes. Since the issue you want to address is not directly related to any District-related activity, policy or function, your request to be included on the agenda is being declined. You may provide written comments for Board members to review or sign up for public comment at any regular Board meeting, but keep in mind that the public comment opportunity exists to allow citizens to address school programs, policies and other items that are before the Board. Public comment is not to address complaints about individual employees or representatives of the District, nor is it to address items that are not otherwise before the Board.
Chair, Board of Trustees”
The response quickly escalated the situation to a full protest on censorship within the school district. There was a “mock” book burning of history books and plenty of protest signs. Morris spoke during the 3 minute public comment period of the school board meeting, at which time the board decided a recess was in order.
The First Amendment is in place for a reason, and this was a prime example of it’s use.