The New Rochelle Republican City Committee today issued a Statement on actions by the New Rochelle Board of Education to significantly curtail public input at school board meetings:
It is not the policy of the New Rochelle Republican City Committee to express any position with regard to the actions of the New Rochelle School Board. This is primarily because historically the Board is intended to be a non-partisan, apolitical Board, serving the community and its schoolchildren without attention to personal motive.
The New Rochelle Board of Education meeting held on August 5, 2014, however, contained an agenda item which was so troubling and disturbing that it necessitates a public statement by this Committee. The agenda item proposes a prior restraint on free speech so broad and so restrictive that it is almost incomprehensible to this Committee that it was actually promulgated in a democratic society.
The Board of Education, in proposing this policy, is seeking to limit public comment at Board meetings by restricting not only the time frames of the public’s speech but the content of the speech itself. We are so troubled by the very nature of this restriction that our attention is directed not only to the First Amendment of our Constitution, wherein we are guaranteed the right to not only speak freely, but also to freely assemble and petition our government for a redress of our grievances.
But even more offensively, we are constrained to look at the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees to all of our citizens equal protection under the law. By the very nature of this policy, the Board is seeking to create a protected class, a select group of persons who shall not be subjected to any type of commentary or review which the Board might deem to be harsh or critical. This type of prior restraint violates the rights of every resident of this City.
Our rights are absolute; they are not privileges, nor fancies, nor trifles, to be had or removed, to be revoked at whim by a tyrant; they are absolutely guaranteed to every single person within the borders of this nation. New Rochelle still lies within these borders.
This proposed policy violates every principle of both good government and good leadership, and thus we must strenuously object and insist that the Board remove these restrictions on free speech and communication from a public forum.