Nicole Solas is waging a legal battle for public access to anti-racism school meetings for students of color.
The two groups barred Solas from attending the meetings where “district policies regarding curriculum, hiring, discipline and accountability” were discussed.
Peter Neronha, Rhode Island attorney general, is reported to have investigated the matter and come to the conclusion that the advisory committee is not a “public body” because it “only makes suggestions and does not has authority over implementing its suggestions.”
Neronha argued that it is not enough that the school created the committee, that some of the committee members serve in a subcommittee which decides district policy, or that the district paid Nonviolent Schools RI to run meetings.
Solas is taking the case to a superior court in hopes that going higher up on the ladder will allow the committee’s “meetings, minutes, actions and other activities” to be made public, and voiding actions by the committee in response to its secretive motivations.
The teachers unions are defending their case by claiming the right to privacy, saying they would not produce public records that “would implicate teacher privacy.”
Restrictions on public participation in school district meetings has cost other states a great deal.
A Philadelphia school district recently paid $300,000 in attorney’s fees, settling a lawsuit for prohibiting “offensive, intolerant, verbally abusive or irrelevant” language at board meetings and requiring speakers to announce their addresses before making comments.