Stillwater, Ok July, 26 (The Oklahoma Post)-
On Friday, July, 22nd Payne County Judge Kistler, who has been putting off recent court dates unexplainably, decided to do his job for the Public and ruled on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Brice Chaffin and a group named Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment (ROPE) were allowed to carry forward with their lawsuit. ROPE has been an active advocate of the state school voucher program.
The primary event occurred at a recorded school board meeting the night of April 12, 2022 when Brice Chaffin was removed from the podium by Stillwater police for reciting scripture.
Following the illegal removal from the meeting, a case was originally filed in May, 2022 Chaffin is claiming that The Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act does in fact allow a party to initiate a lawsuit for relief of violations of their religious freedom. ROPE and Chaffin are asking for a public apology to be made to Chaffin and fees to reimburse attorney Seidler. Attorney Maria Seidler of Tulsa is representing Brice Chaffin, who was hoping for election to House District 33 before being defeated by incumbent John Talley.
No crumbs for the losers were left over within the new ruling. Payne County Judge Kistler ruled that the case would continue in November, with the next date being a pre-trial hearing.
The order, which has yet to be entered for public view, also stated that the lawsuit against SPS and individual SPS Board Members was allowed, however, Judge Kistler removed ‘The Board’ as a collective from the lawsuit. Stillwater Public School as a District and each individual Board Member – in their role as SPS Board Member will remain in the suit.
Stillwater Public School board members were not laughing at Mr. Chaffin following the ruling, as they had the day he was removed from the speaker’s podium. A small victory and progress towards ensuring Stillwater has professional leadership and accountability. Many believe the group, even with a victory, will do little to ensure corrective actions are in place and public employees conspire to intimidate parents in the future, however, the case does help ensure no one will be arrested at a board meeting for quoting religious scripture. Some families affected by the City and School’s illegal activities have been in much more dire straights.
On the ROPE webpage was an explanation for their requested corrective actions and sanctions, “Government schools are out of control. Parents know this, but many don’t know what to do about it, or want to overlook the fact because they don’t want to go against teachers and administrators who might single out their child for retribution. Hopefully – if we win the lawsuit and SPS is forced to publicly apologize – it will go a long way toward giving accountability of school board members back to their communities and the citizens who elect them. The only way it doesn’t, is if parents and citizens don’t capitalize on the win and work to hold their own school boards just as accountable for their behavior.”
The public elects each individual Board Member and every member of the public should expect that each individual school board member will follow the Constitution and the laws of the State of Oklahoma in commission of their duties as they are sworn to do when taking their seat on the Board.”
We will continue to follow the developing story.
(Writing by Allison Brown; Editing by Robbie Robertson)
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