A parent in Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit against a school district for refusing to provide a copy of a speech a middle school teacher gave when he came out as transgender to his students.
Orchestra teacher Jacob Puccio at Northstar Middle School in Eau Claire told his students he would transition to a woman and asked to be called “Ms. Puccio.”
With help from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, the parent, Leah Buchman, alleges in the lawsuit that parents had requested the speech, and the district refused to comply.
According to WILL, on the morning of June 5, 2023, the second-to-last day of the school year, “all orchestra students were required to report to the orchestra room during homeroom. Once there, they found orchestra teacher Jacob Puccio, a school counselor, and the District’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director, Dang Yang.”
“Students were told that Puccio would be undergoing a gender transition from male to female,” the legal organization explained. “In addition, a scripted statement was read to multiple classes of elementary and high school music students in the district, including North High School and at least three elementary schools (Sam Davey Elementary, Locust Lane Elementary, and Northwoods Elementary). The statement was crafted by the District specifically to ensure that students received information in a particular way, but to date, parents have no details about what their children were told.”
Concerned about what her sixth grade children were told, Buchman requested the text of the speech.
The Daily Caller reports, “The request was denied, with the high school band instructor, Joe McCausland, specifying the script, ‘needed to be a verbal presentation only and was not to be shared electronically,’ according to an email between McCausland and Buchman.”
“Buchman then submitted a public records request to ECASD for a copy of the statement, however the district attorney claimed that the document could not be shared because the district opened an investigation as to whether the announcement was handled improperly by an employee, but did not say when it began or who the subject is, according to the lawsuit,” the report added.
WILL said in a press release, “Parents from the Eau Claire Area School District are simply asking what was read to their children, and they have so far been kept in the dark. Both WILL and our client requested a copy of the script read to students under our state open records law.”
“It’s ridiculous for a school district to refuse to produce a statement that was read out loud to dozens of minor students in several district classrooms,” associate counsel Cory Brewer, stated. “What was told to these kids should be readily accessible to parents.”
Buchman added, “All I am asking is for the school district to provide what was told to my children and their peers in the classroom. As a parent, it’s my responsibility to help my kids understand all that life throws their way, and I do not understand why it has taken the school district so long to update parents.”