Texas School Board Threatens to SLAPP Concerned Parent

The Galveston, Texas Independent School Board is apparently displeased with the blog of one angry parent, Sandra Tetley, who has excoriated the board for a host of different issues. The school board has decided that Tetley’s blog is of such consequence and offense that it has threatened to sue her unless she removes the sixteen “libelous” statements with which it is displeased. Tetley’s lawyer (and she is fortunate to have one) said it well in an interview about the threatened suit: ““The proper response by a public official to criticism is leadership, debate, discussion and compromise — not frivolous litigation.”

We couldn’t agree more. And this SLAPP is especially disturbing precisely because it is the government itself that is seeking to silence public debate with a lawsuit. As salt in the First Amendment wound, Tetley and others point out that the board has already spent more than $30,000 on legal counsel whose job is, in part, to monitor Tetley’s website. And if the board decides to sue, Galveston residents’ hard-earned tax dollars will fund the lawsuit( including, ironically, Tetley.) In the meantime, although Tetley is one of the few SLAPP targets who is lucky enough to secure legal counsel, because Texas has no anti-SLAPP law, Tetley will likely be on the hook for her costs in defending against a lawsuit as well.

Responding to a mother’s criticism of waste and mismanagement by siphoning funds to a law firm to monitor that criticism? Sounds like education reform to us! We’ll keep an eye on this and provide more information as it comes along. Hopefully, the School District will come to its senses and back down from its threats.

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