Baltimore County States Attorney Scott Shellenberger dropped charges Monday against Robert Small, the parent whose arrest at an MSDE Common Core forum made national news when it was caught on video.
Mr. Shellenberger said, “It was clear that Mr. Small violated the rules of the meeting and disrupted the meeting. It was also clear that the Officer acted appropriately and did have probable cause to make an arrest on both charges.
“The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office has just received and reviewed the facts of this case. In the interest of justice, further prosecution will not accomplish anything more. Therefore, the charges have been dismissed.”
It’s one thing to diffuse the situation and remove Mr. Small from the room. It’s entirely another to forcefully aggravate the situation and arrest a non-threatening parent for speaking out of turn. While the MSDE may set protocol for meetings, these rules in no way trump the Constitution of the Unites States which protects our First Amendment speech rights.
At the very least, the actions of the officer were examples of shoddy and unprofessional police work. It is incidents like this that tarnish the good name of our police force and add to the perception that cops are bullies and thugs. By not acknowledging this in his statement, Shellengberger contributed to the perception which endangers the safety of our officers on the street.
Don’t hold your breath for Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson to suspend the officer or conduct an internal investigation.
Additionally, as states attorney who took an oath of office to uphold the constitution, Shellenberger has the duty to interpose and protect Mr. Small’s right to free speech. The protocol for the meeting, which was that attendees would submit written questions and the panel would answer them, was broken by Dr. Dallas Dance, who screened and reworded the questions, fundamentally altering their meaning.
The fact that a law exists which makes it unlawful to “disrupt” (whatever that means) a school function with a sentence of six months in prison is a telling clue that our school board is accountable to no one and operates with full impunity. While with one hand they shove anti-bullying down our throats, with the other they smack down opposing views and dare us to defy them. There are no elections of school board members, sweeping changes are made to our education system without parental input or notification or involvement of the legislature. The biggest portion of our state budget goes to education, to the tune of nearly a BILLION dollars.
The system made an example of Robert Small. Don’t question the authority of the MSDE in telling us what’s best for our children.
The next MSDE forum on Common Core is Tuesday Oct. 1 at 7pm in Prince George’s County. Find information here.
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