GILFORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man who refused to stop objecting to a book about bullying read by his daughter’s high school English class was charged with disorderly conduct.
“Nineteen Minutes,” by New Hampshire author Jodi Picoult, has been part of the curriculum since 2007, Gilford High School officials told WMUR-TV. The book also deals with a school shooting.
William Baer complained that parents should have been notified the book was being read because it contains a sexually explicit passage.
At a school board meeting Monday night, Baer was given two minutes to speak, the same amount of time as others. He protested the limit and challenged the board to arrest him. A police officer led him away.
“I’ve never read anything like this,” Baer said at the meeting. “It’s like the transcript for a triple-X-rated movie.”
Baer said the board violated his First Amendment guarantee of free speech but the board maintains it imposed the two-minute rule to give everyone a chance to speak. He was escorted out after he began arguing with a parent who did not object to the book being read in class.
“It was basically, you make a statement, say what you want and sit down,” Baer told the station after the meeting. “Sit down and shut up, basically, and that’s not how you interact with adults.”
Following the meeting, the school board issued a statement saying, “The board apologizes for the discomfort of those impacted and for the failure of the school district to send home prior notice of assignment of the novel.”
Baer told the television station he will fight his arrest. If convicted, he could be fined up to $1,200.
A phone listing for Baer couldn’t be found Tuesday night.