Father Arrested at Common Core Forum, Faces 10 Years in Jail

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Did Small Assault an Officer?

Should the police officer have arrested Robert Small for speaking out of turn at a school board meeting? Image by Decoded Science

Should the police officer have arrested Robert Small for speaking out of turn at a school board meeting? Image by Decoded Science

According to the police report, shortly after the officer approached the father, Small pushed him.

However – nowhere on the video of the officer’s interaction with Small as he was speaking in the meeting hall, does it appear Small ever touched or pushed the officer.

Small is waiving his arms but the only physical contact appears to be the officer grabbing and pushing the outspoken father out the door.

Free Speech? Removing Small from Meeting Not a First Amendment Issue

Free speech under the First Amendment is not absolute, especially when it comes to time, place and manner. If this were not so, a group of people could stand at a busy intersection, block rush hour traffic, and argue they had a free speech right to do it.

The Supreme Court has acknowledged there are time, place and manner (TPM) restrictions to the right of free speech. The court developed a four pronged test to determine when speech can be restricted. The prohibited speech must be neutral, must serve a significant government interest, must be narrowly drawn, and an alternative form of communication must be provided.

It appears the public forum adhered to these guidelines. An alternative form of communication was provided; people were allowed to write down questions and hand them to the panel to be answered. As to neutrality, there was no indication Small was prevented from speaking solely because he opposed the Common Core. Rather, the board members appear to have excluded him from the meeting because he stood up and began to speak while Dance was speaking, not because of his particular views on the subject.

The rules for asking questions during the meeting did serve a governmental interest, to explain the Common Core. If members of the audience were allowed to jump up and talk at any time, panel would not be able to convey their views and listen to feedback which was the entire purpose of the public forum.

Common Core Arrest

Small was held in custody until 3 a.m. and then released on his own recognizance. Did he assault an officer? Not according to the video. Was he out of line? According to the rules of the forum, he was.

Resources

Baltimore Sun. Parent arrested after protesting use of common core. (2013). Accessed September 22, 2013.

Common Core State Standards Initiative. Implementing the Common Core State Standards. (2013). Accessed September 22, 2013.

The Free Dictionary. Time, Place and Manner Restrictions. (2013). Accessed September 22, 2013.

Justica US Law. 2010 Maryland Code. (2013). Accessed September 22, 2013.

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