The story of the SSA club at Pigsah High School in North Carolina just gets worse by the day. First they refused to let the club form, then they approved it, then the young lady who was trying to get it started withdrew due to death threats and intimidation. Hemant reports on what else the school did to scuttle the club:
After making a public records request on Friday, a district official sent me a copy of a letter sent by their lawyer, Patrick Smathers, to the ACLU and FFRF…
Smathers continued his letter for another two pages in which he listed a number of “concerns” he had about the whole situation, including the insinuation that the church/state advocacy groups were out “to seek publicity and notoriety.” (I guess that also suggests there was a chance at quiet reconciliation, but that the advocacy groups didn’t want that, a claim I find hard to believe.)
He also brought up the fact that Kalei’s father has a criminal past and that would be a problem for people in the community if this club were to form, adding that Mr. Wilson is likely responsible for this whole affair:
It is my opinion [that the ACLU/FFRF's] allegations… are without merit and baseless. In my opinion, the allegations arise from a manufactured controversy caused by [Mr. Wilson’s] influence on his children and a desire for publicity and potential financial gain. Further, that your respective organizations either unwittingly or willingly have participated in the same.
This is a ridiculously low blow. Basically, the lawyer — with the district behind him — is saying that he has no problem opening up a very old, and entirely irrelevant, can of worms about Kalei’s father in order to make this issue go away.
It worked. Even though Kalei received serious threats and nasty text messages, that’s not the only reason she decided she no longer wanted to form the group. She also wanted to protect her family, specifically her father, from being subject to vilification based on a decades-old matter.
It seems to me that there is only one reasonable conclusion to draw, which is that the school essentially tried to blackmail the family by dredging up old and utterly irrelevant criminal problems that the father may have had. What other purpose could it possibly serve to do a background check on the father and then to use that in a letter? I can’t think of any other possible purpose. I hope they’ve got a lawyer because I’d be looking into all the legal options.