Skip to comments.GOVERNMENT SCHOOL TO SUE ...
Posted on 11/01/2007 9:36:15 AM PDT by Turret Gunner A20
GOVERNMENT SCHOOL TO SUE ... a parent?
The government school district in Galveston, Texas is threatening to sue a parent for what the school district says is libelous material on the parent's website.
Sandra Tetley runs a site www.gisdwatch.com where she posts information about the local government school system and its officials. If she does not remove the statements from the website, the district plans to sue her.
Tetley accuses trustees and administrators of breaking the law. Her group, Galveston Alliance for Neighborhood schools, has a history of criticizing the district for reconfiguring its middle schools, closing elementary schools, meeting in illegal executive sessions, refusing to divulge contents of a letter from a civil rights consultant, and for issuing a budget forecast that was off by $10 million.
One legal expert says that it is "rare and unlawful" for the district to sue a citizen.
Government entities cannot sue for libel. Some call this potential lawsuit an intimidation tactic, and even worse, a great big waste of taxpayer dollars.
Tetley says that people are tired of what the government is doing, and that they are going to use our own money to silence us.
Our government schools are so pitiful
it's sad more parents aren't as proactive as Tetley. Once the parents of this country recognize what they're doing to their children, and once these parents start demanding some semblance of school choice, things may begin to change.
Won't matter if they get it in front of the right judge.
Whatever happened to the concept of a government entity being held accountable to the public? Why does this school district hold closed door sessions and get away with it?
Not the point. The school board has unlimited taxpayer funds to pursue this. They can use this continue the case and bankrupt Ms. Tetley through legal fees, even if they lose the case.
It's a LOT easier to prove a SLAPP suit....
Having been a newspaperman who's seen one public official removed from his position following a SLAPP-back suit, and another lose the election he thought was in his pocket, those folks in Galvez-town are in a real good position to collect triple damages from that school board....
Which scares the school board not one bit, after all, they'll continue fighting so long as it's the taxpayers' money being used for their legal bills and not their own.
Accordingly, after the filing of a SLAPP-back suit, there's a neat little follow-up legal step waiting for the Galvezton board....
I wonder where the ACLU is??????????
Same place they are on Second Amendment lawsuits.
“Government entities cannot sue for libel.”
Probably because you’ve got to prove that your reputation has been injured in order to win a libel lawsuit, and that’s impossible in the case of government since they already have horrifically bad reputations.
She should tell the school board to go ahead and sue.... it’ll be the perfect oppurtunity for her to force them to turn over materials in discovery that will allow her to prove on the record that the statements made against them were factual.
Can’t be libel if it happens to be true ;)
Government entities cannot sue for libel because they are public! Public people cannot either - this should go nowhere!
Not sure if Texas has an anti-SLAPP law.
IOW, truth hurts!!
If what she’s posting is true, I don’t see how it can be considered libel. In that case, I’d say that she’s providing a community service.
Organizations of any kind that are run on taxpayer funds and service the taxpayers ought not to be having illegal exectuive sessions. And while I can understand a budget being off some, $10,000,000???
Something about the thought of the school suing her is very unsettling. That could bankrupt her very quickly and smacks of the attempts to silence her that she’s claiming.
How does a government board or panel have standing to sue its citizens for expressing an opinion about the board or panel. I can see that you can libel an individual, or a private corporation, but a government board, panel, commission, etc? How do you slander “the people?” How do you prove that the “people” have suffered damages? What are the damages? If I say a commission has held an illegal meeting and it didn’t how have the “people” been injured.
I have seen some smaller school boards and other governmental bodies hold illegal executive sessions.
Somehow it seems to me that the woman might be a little too close to the truth, or they wouldn’t want to sue her. If “everyone knew” they were innocent, what would be the point?
Actually, she’s probably delighted that they are suing her. She knows they will lose, and it’s just going to embarrass them more, which is what she wants. I wish there were more like her. She makes the rest of us look pretty small.
They're working on it. pdf *here*.
Until then, charges under Texas Statute § 466.313 [Conspiracy] remain a possibility, as do civil actions for federal civil rights violations.:
(a) A person commits an offense of conspiracy if, with intent that an offense under this chapter be committed: (1) the person agrees with one or more other persons that they or one or more of them engage in conduct that would constitute the offense; and
(2) one or more of the persons agreeing under Subdivision (1) performs an overt act in pursuance of the agreement.
(b) An agreement constituting a conspiracy may be inferred from acts of the parties.
(c) It is no defense to prosecution for conspiracy under this section that:
(1) one or more of the coconspirators is not criminally responsible for the object offense;
(2) one or more of the coconspirators has been acquitted, so long as at least two coconspirators have not been acquitted;
(3) one or more of the coconspirators has not been prosecuted or convicted, has been convicted of a different offense, or is immune from prosecution;
(4) the actor belongs to a class of persons that by definition of the object offense is legally incapable of committing the object offense in an individual capacity; or
(5) the object offense was not actually committed.
(d) An offense under this section is one category lower than the most serious offense under this chapter that is the object of the conspiracy, and if the most serious offense under this chapter that is the object of the conspiracy is a felony of the third degree, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
IMO, this is a liberal “lashing out” tactic that is utilized to display self righteous indignation and outrage in an attempt to shift the focus away from the allegations of impropriety and onto a propaganda campaign that portrays the school system as a “victim” while at the same time demonizes their accuser.
It’s going to backfire. The question is how far does this woman want to take it. She’s apparently taken it quite far already. Does she want to be the head of the school board? This could be the launching pad, if she uses it as one.
Try this one on for size: as a news reporter I covered- and was nearly called as a witness- to cover a libel suit filed by a sitting mayor against a witness against him, based on the fact that a grand jury had published their indictment.
Rather than dismiss the suit out of hand, the judge called to hear the cases [local judges having recused themselves based on their knowledge of the personalities/events involved] instead decided to apply the usual first standard of a libel action to it: was the underlying statement truethful. And he heard testimony and evidence to that fact, and issued a judgement that as a matter of judicial notice, it was.
The sitting mayor [who had used the city attorney to represent him, claiming that the *false* grand jury investigation had been initiated against his position of mayor rather than at his personal misconduct while holding that position, had been looking at a run for an open state senate seat. The resulting publicity pretty well squashed that idea, and he passed away in 2002.
See for yourself: http://www.gisdwatch.com/
I wonder if these public officials have throught this through? Such a suit opens up the door to discovery and given the parties and the issues the defendant would be able to embark on a massive fishing expedition. These plaintiffs better be super squeaky clean or their careers could be over.
Different states, different laws.
Public people cannot either - this should go nowhere!
Public figures can indeed sue for publication of libelous material, but a higher standard is required, requiring proof that the libel was both knowing and with "malice"- an act in reckless disregard to the known facts and with intent to harm.
The courts have additionally held that there are two types of public figures:
A "general purpose public figure" is someone who enjoys social prominence. Entertainers are in this category.
A "limited purpose public figure" is one who has intentionally placed themselves into prominence, such as a vocal activist on a given issue.
The reasoning is that the press has a First Amendment duty to report on such newsworthy people, and therefore published statements warrant such protection.
The post above this one is the correct link for GISD Watch.
This as has been stated in this thread is a SLAPP suit situation. I wrote a letter to the editor about these kinds of suits in one of our local newspapers acouple of years ago.
This is clearly a blatant case of abuse of power by educational bureaucrats bent of going after those who dare to blow the whistle on them and their activities. These bereaucrats ought to be kicked out of office for displaying this kind of arrogance. Thinking that they're somehow above public criticism.
If we keep allowing these goons and thugs to bully us around like this, this nation is going to end up ceasing to exist. Simple as that.
Also posted here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1921132/posts
Hey, school districts do that to parents all the time, and get away with it. Nice to see the shoe on the other foot for a change. And look at how they react! Using public money to defend their dubious virtue. What a joke.
Why should they care, when they're using our money to do it.
Their careers should be over right now for even doing this! This is abuse of power in the worst extreme.
They should not only lose, they should be held up as the biggest laughingstock in America for pulling a stunt like this.
This school district - like the one in Houston - has always been a joke!
That is true. They are trying to "Nifong" Sandra Tetley. For her, publicity will be the best protection.
Thanks for finding that. Galveston School District isn't the only one in the U.S. that abuses their power and gets away with it.
Not quite. Though it's probably provable as abuse of the courts, she"d more likely fare better with a charge under Section 241, Conspiracy against Rights, rather than trying to prove that GISD is attempting to enforce as law their own unconstitutional law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, needed to prove Deprivation of rights under color of law under Section 242.
Besides, with any luck at all, the FBI would tryy to get their evidence by having one of their pals stick his gun in the mouth of one or more of the GISD members. Which should be an enlightening experience for them....
Indeed. And I notice that the result I expected in *this case* has now come to pass.
Where it goes from there, we shall see, but expect follow-on civil lawsuits at a minimum. FIRE Foundation Website *here*.