Federal Judge spanks Owasso School Board

Federal District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma granted on Tuesday a temporary restraining order and injunction blocking an Owasso School Board imposed six-month ban of a parent from school property and defending the parent’s First Amendment Rights.

The story begins as a child of 14-years checks out a book from her Owasso School Library titled “Blankets” which included pornographic depictions of sex. She is shocked and shows her father, Timothy “Tim” Reiland, who then attends the next Owasso School Board meeting October 10, 2022, to lodge objection to the graphic material. His concerns were not addressed, but he was banned.

Reiland sued with the help of Legal Overwatch for Parents’ School Rights, an Oklahoma nonprofit law firm supporting parents’ rights in engagements with public school administrations.

The suit argued Reiland’s First Amendment free-speech rights have been violated by the school. U.S. District Judge John F. Heil agreed to issue a temporary injunction that prevents the school from restricting Reiland’s access to school property, finding that Reiland “is likely to succeed on the merits of his First Amendment claim and this factor weighs heavily in favor of granting preliminary injunctive relief.

“It is well established that the right to criticize public officials and the right to ‘petition the Government for a redress of grievances’ are protected activities under the First Amendment…” Heil wrote. “Plaintiff’s criticism of the Board’s decision as ‘f—ing b——t,’ while vulgar and arguably unnecessary, is protected speech.”

“Under Defendants’ ban, Plaintiff is no longer able to attend OPS Board meetings or meet with OPS Board members on OPS grounds, thus chilling Plaintiff’s ability to criticize Board decisions and to ‘petition the [Board] for a redress of grievances,’” Heil wrote.

The judge also noted that it “is clear” that Owasso’s ban was “substantially motivated as a response to Plaintiff’s criticism of the Board’s decision and his petition for a redress of grievances.”

Here is Reiland’s petition:

Here is the temporary restraining order:

This writer spoke with Reiland who expressed frustration both over the lack of meaningful response by the Owasso School Board and the lack of substantial coverage by media.

Tim Reiland

Reiland’s appeal directly responding to the Owasso School Board’s restriction, notes, “a public figure working as a journalist, Art Haddaway, which Superintendent Coates’ own evidence shows is a close friend with a District employee, Director of Communications, and has a long-term animosity against my friend, Ron Causby, with whom I was standing that evening. Their animosity arose due to Mr. Causby’s criticism of him as a journalist with a leftist bias in reporting on Superintendent Coates’ Administration; and another public figure, a politically elected school board member, Mr. Brent England, who Mr. Reiland approached after the Board meeting at issue in order to lobby on the school library book policy and who argued in favor as intensely as Mr. Reiland argued against the book policy…”

This reporter reached out by email to Art Haddaway and to Tulsa World Editor Jason Collington who responded, “We don’t have a comment for your story.”

While balanced coverage is a subjective question, parents should expect public reporting of their sincerely held considered positions on topics impacting their children. Relationships between reporters and government officials from a local school administration to the U.S. Presidency should not restrict views outside official narratives.

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