School officials to testify on “out of control” requests for public records from parents

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The number of parents submitting Freedom of Access Act requests to Maine’s government-run schools is “out of control,” according to Maine School Management Association Vicki Wallack.

“I am on the Right to Know Committee for MSMA and a strong defender of Right to Know, but requests are out of control,” Wallack said in an email to school officials inviting them to testify at a meeting of the committee on Thursday, October 13.

“[O]ur concern is the number of FOIA (sic) requests we are seeing around gender identity discussions in schools and pushback on posters that support acceptance of our gay, lesbian and transgender students,” she said. “As you know, districts also are getting pushback around the teaching of Critical Race Theory, which is better described as the role slavery played in our national history and racism in this country.”

Gender ideology and Critical Race Theory have become flashpoints across America as parents, teachers, politicians, and school officials debate what role, if any, the progressive theories about human sexuality and race should have in government-run schools.

The controversy has been driven in part by videos shared on social media in which teachers brag about their efforts to indoctrinate their students or discuss their personal sexuality in the classroom. The Twitter account @LibsOfTikTok has earned millions of followers by simply reposting videos of teachers explaining how they talk about gender and race in the classroom.

In Maine, controversial content regarding gender and sexuality has appeared on Department of Education platforms, prompting outcry from the Maine Republican Party and leading the administration of Democrat Gov. Janet Mills to order the content’s removal.

Using Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, a law that allows anyone to obtain public records, parents and activists are increasingly attempting to discover for themselves how politically charged theories are being discussed in training programs, private meetings, and classrooms.

Chief among those parent activists is Shawn McBreairty, mentioned specifically in Wallack’s email. Last month, a Maine judge ruled that RSU 22 had to pay McBreairty $40,000 after violating his First Amendment rights by banning him from attending school board meetings.

The Maine Wire has submitted Freedom of Access Act requests for public records to the Maine Department of Education regarding gender ideology. This request has been ignored.

The Right to Know Advisory Committee meeting will take place on Thursday at 1:00pm and is open to the public.

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