HOUSTON (FOX 26) - An HISD parent is claiming her middle schooler’s principal is violating First Amendment rights after censoring parent comments about how to opt out of STAAR testing.
It started with a post published by the Hogg Middle School Facebook page yesterday explaining how parents opting their kids out of STAAR testing could negatively impact the school.
Parents say when their comments on that post were deleted, their first amendment rights were violated.
“Some parents were just commenting with some extra information about some inaccuracies in the post, and so she proceeded to delete all the comments.”
Karina Quesada-Leon says her son’s principal has been censoring parent communication about opting out of STAAR testing.
The post in question no longer has comments on it and has been edited to read:
“We want to address your question personally so comments will not be permitted on this post.”
“She also blocked me—a parent of a student at the school—and blocked another parent that I know of," said Quesada-Leon. “It was censorship and violation of our first amendment rights.”
Her 6th grader attends Hogg Middle School. She says she emailed the principal after the apparent censorship occurred.
Principal Angela Sugarek responded saying, “please accept my apology for this error.”
“You don’t accidentally block someone. There are steps. You have to very much want to block someone," said Quesada-Leon.
“She better accidentally undo it before she has a problem," said Fox 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico.
He says the school district probably did violate First Amendment rights by removing parent comments and banning parents.
“HISD, which is a governmental entity, creates a public forum like on their Facebook page," said Tritico. "That’s a public forum, so they really don’t have the right to just delete comments of the public because they don’t like those comments.”
On the topic of opting out of STAAR testing, the Texas Education Agency tells Fox 26:
“Current state law does not provide for an opt-out option for state assessments.”
“Oh yeah you can opt out. I opt out every year.”
“The problem is Texas law really doesn’t allow an opt out provision from the STAAR test, and so what they’ve done is they just call in sick, if you will, for their children.”
We reached out to Hogg Middle School and HISD for comment. We’re still waiting to hear back.
Our legal analyst says parents concerned with censorship can file a grievance against the principal. They can take the issue all the way up to the school board in order to remove the censorship.