The Oconomowoc Area School District has released a statement intended to clarify what it meant by a cease-and-desist letter that it sent to resident Alexandra Schweitzer after she complained about what she called age-inappropriate instructional materials being made available to district students.
In its statement, the district said the letter it sent in May to Schweitzer was in the capacity of her being the president of the Wisconsin chapter of No Left Turn in Education.
"While the recipient may also identify as a parent, the letter was clearly not sent to her in that individual capacity," the statement said.
The district also said Schweitzer's organization was using misinformation about the district in promotional and fundraising materials.
"The school district repeatedly clarified the misinformation with the organization and made several attempts to have the organization end its use of misinformation. When those attempts were ignored, the school district sent the cease and desist letter in hopes the organization would report accurately about our school district," the district said.
The district said it has not filed a lawsuit against Schweitzer or her organization.
"The purpose of the cease and desist letter was to advise the organization that it was publishing and circulating misinformation regarding the District’s curriculum and educational materials," the district said in its statement.
The district said it wants "to continue to have open, two-way dialogue with our parent community."
"However, we want those conversations to be grounded in facts, and the representations which have been made by the organization to whom the cease and desist letter was directed were not accurate with regard to the District’s educational standards and practices. When political organizations, liberal or conservative, promote misinformation for the purpose of political gain, it hinders meaningful conversations with our community," the district said in its statement.
"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 concluded.
The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sent an emailed statement to a reporter June 28 attributed to its president and general counsel Rick Esenberg.
"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. Parents should be free to comment on their experiences with their kids’ schools," Esenberg said in the emailed statement.
“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," Sweitzer said in a WILL news release about the Oconomowoc Area School District's statement. "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."
The district's statement comes after WILL sent a letter to the district on June 17 alleging that the district's cease-and-desist letter to Schweitzer was an attempt to silence her for her complaints. WILL also said in a news release that Schweitzer's "public statements did not meet the legal standard for defamation" and are protected by the First Amendment.
According to WILL's letter, Schweitzer and other parents complained to the district that the books "Gender Quest Workbook," "It's Perfectly Normal" and "Queer," which reference sexual orientation and gender identity issues, were made available on student Chromebook laptops without notifying parents. Schweitzer also complained that the book "The 57 Bus," which contains references to sexual orientation and gender identity, was read aloud in an eighth-grade classroom.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: OASD clarifies letter it sent to parent who complained about books