A Little Falls parent was prohibited from communicating with her daughter’s teacher after she requested to review the curriculum for a class on “sexting,” she said at a school board meeting this week.
Dozens of parents and community members attended the Little Falls School Board meeting Monday night, some holding signs calling Superintendent Greg Johnson a “groomer.” They were there to support Cassie Fredregill, who said the district is retaliating against her for requesting the curriculum.
Fredregill, a parent of three students in the district, said she repeatedly insisted on reviewing the curriculum for her fifth-grade daughter’s class in early November. At the end of that month, Johnson sent her a “communication plan,” which forbids her from speaking to her daughter’s teacher, the school social worker, and attending parent-teacher conferences for the remainder of the school year, according to a copy obtained by Alpha News.
She said the “communication plan” is equivalent to a restraining order but was not issued by a court or signed by a judge.
“I wanted to review the curriculum and videos for a ‘sexting’ class they were going to teach my 10-year-old and wanted to know why I had not received paperwork for opting out. They originally told me there was no curriculum for the class,” she told Alpha News.
Fredregill said she’s been met “with nothing but hostility” from the district and the school board since requesting the information. She said she still does not know what was discussed in the class.
In an email to Alpha News, Johnson said he cannot comment directly on family or student matters but confirmed there have been times when he and other administrators have directed parents to communicate directly with them and not teachers or staff.
While parents have the right to review curriculum, Fredregill said she spoke with her child’s teacher and the school’s social worker, who taught the course on “sexting,” but received “no answers.” She eventually opted her daughter out of the class.
She said shortly thereafter, Johnson emailed her the “restraining order.” He claimed Fredregill had questioned the teacher’s “integrity” by inquiring about the “sexting” class, she said.
In a letter accompanying the communication plan, Johnson accused Fredregill of engaging in “disrupting” and “accusatory” behavior by “twisting conversations.” He also said the school would not “tolerate” Fredregill’s behavior.
Fredregill said the situation got “progressively worse” from there.
“My daughter came home with a parent-teacher conference slip stating that I’m not allowed to attend my own biological child’s parent-teacher conference and that only my husband could attend,” she said. Fredregill’s husband is an active-duty military member and could not attend the conference.
“On rare occasions, a parent may not be allowed to attend in-person conferences. In these rare situations, conference data is shared with parents in other ways,” Johnson said.
Fredregill also claimed that the teacher is retaliating against her daughter.
“My daughter is getting in trouble almost every day. She’s losing all her privileges at school. When the class gets movie time or popcorn days, she’s not allowed to be part of those activities,” Fredregill said. “She’s not allowed to do recess. She can’t have free time. She has to eat lunch and then go straight back to the classroom.”
Fredregill said the teacher’s behavior is taking a toll on her daughter and causing “emotional damage.”
“She’s super upset. She is very distressed over this. The teacher is rude to her and behaves passive-aggressively by not calling on her in class even if she is the only one raising her hand,” she said.
Legal experts said school districts do have the authority to enforce communication plans.
It’s not illegal, according to Doug Seaton of the Upper Midwest Law Center.
“It’s like a trespassing protection order,” he said. “A school district can limit who and when a parent gets to contact, but they can’t prevent a parent from taking part in their child’s education, which includes parent-teacher conferences.”
Seaton said districts are overreaching because they think they can get away with it.
“We have been able to write letters to school districts to limit the scope of the ‘no trespass’ letters to allow parents to participate in normal parent involvement in a child’s education. If parents find that their district won’t agree to this, there may be a case to take to court,” Seaton said.
Fredregill urged the school board to look into the issue during Monday night’s meeting.
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.