A Tale of Two School Boards
Johnston and Linn-Mar's school boards voted on controversial items, one board followed federal law and the other followed an extreme interpretation of state law.
Two school boards met on Monday evening and voted on items that were deemed controversial.
First, the Johnston Community Schools Board voted 5 to 2 to approve a student-led chapter of Turning Point USA as a sanctioned student group at Johnston High School.
Katie Fiala, Alicia Clevenger, Deb Davis, Clint Evans, and Derek Tidball voted to recognize the group.
Soneeta Mangra-Dutcher and Jennifer Chamberland voted against recognizing the group.
I have not been a fan of Turning Point USA for several years, and I've been disappointed by the pivot made by its founder, Charlie Kirk, after President Donald Trump was elected.
However, as I wrote in an editorial on behalf of The Iowa Torch, regardless of criticism leveled at the group, the law required the board to approve TPUSA since they have sanctioned similar groups.
The Equal Access Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, is quite clear. It states, "It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance and which has a limited open forum to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings."
The law defines "limited open forum" when a secondary school "grants an offering to or opportunity for one or more noncurriculum related student groups to meet on school premises during noninstructional time."
I was happy to hear several references to the Equal Access Act, and it seems that most of the board members understood they would not be in compliance with the law if they denied the group.
The plot thickens...
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