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Oconomowoc School District Threatens Parent With Defamation Lawsuit

“First, we request that the District revoke its cease and desist letter. Second, we request confirmation from the District that it will stop spending taxpayer dollars to fund bullying tactics via legal counsel. The District should instead focus on educating its students with ageappropriate material.” – WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg in a letter to the school district.

The Oconomowoc Area School District (OASD) issued a cease and desist letter to a parent threatening her with a defamation lawsuit for statements she made in public forums about the use and accessibility of age-inappropriate material.

Alexandra schweitzer oconomowoc area school district
Alexandra schweitzer

On May 13, attorneys for the Oconomowoc Area School District School Board issued the letter to Alexandra Schweitzer of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, threatening legal action if she does not revoke public statements she made about classroom material and access to inappropriate material.

At issue are a series of comments Schweitzer made about the availability of certain inappropriate books available to students of all ages through the school’s library app, inadequate parental notification about the use of a book in an eighth-grade classroom with controversial themes, and statements about her communications with the school district and the school board president.

The Oconomowoc Area School District is threatening a defamation suit against Schweitzer if their demands are not met.

Over the past year, Schweitzer raised concerns about age-inappropriate materials, both available for children to access and being used in the classroom, without proper parental notification.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued the below letter to OASD’s attorneys, on behalf of Schweitzer, which said her public statements do not meet the legal standard for defamation and that her speech is protected by the First Amendment.

Schweitzer, recipient of the Oconomowoc Area School District’s cease and desist letter, said, “If the school district wanted to silence me, they have failed. School districts need to know that parents won’t back down, and legal threats won’t deter us from looking out for our kids.”

After enrolling her children elsewhere, Alexandra continued to be an advocate and resource for local parents regarding their concerns. As President of No Left Turn in Education – Wisconsin, Schweitzer voiced her concerns, and those of district parents, in public forums and in testimony before the Wisconsin Legislature.

WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg, said, “The Oconomowoc Area School District’s attempt to silence a local mom with legal threats is inappropriate and troubling. The District’s accusations of defamation are weak. This tactic needs to be called out for what it is: bullying a critic.”

Dr. Elana Fishbein, Founder & President, No Left Turn in Education, said, “Bullying a parent into silence is a dangerous precedent to set in a free society. No Left Turn in Education stands with Alexandra Schweitzer and any American parents petitioning their school boards on matters relating to the education of their children.”

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