NH dad dares cops to arrest him during school board protest of controversial book assignment
A New Hampshire man dared police to arrest him after he refused to stop protesting a book assigned to his ninth-grade daughter’s class.
William Baer complained Monday night during a school board meeting in Gilford, N.H., that parents weren’t notified prior to the assignment of Jodi Picoult’s 2007 bestselling novel, “Nineteen Minutes.”
The book, which is about a school shooting, contains scenes involving rough sex between teens.
Baer was told before he began speaking that he had two minutes to comment, and he asked Superintendent Kent Hemingway to read the notice sent to parents Monday — after the book was assigned.
The notice informed parents that the book “depicts high school relationships, some of which are unhealthy.”
Baer, an attorney, continued speaking past the allotted two minutes and sat down, but he then got into an argument with another parent who approved of the book assignment.
He asked school board members what was the remedy to the dispute, but they told Baer they would not take questions on the matter.
“You are going to arrest me because I violated the two-minute rule?” Baer said. “I guess you are going to have to arrest me.”
An officer obliged, and Baer was charged with disorderly conduct.
The school board issued an apology after the contentious meeting, saying the school district should have notified parents that the book would be assigned – as it had been in previous years.
School Board Chairman Sue Allen said the district would revise and clarify its policies to require parents to accept controversial materials, rather than asking them to opt out.
“I am utterly appalled that this book was in my son’s hands,” said parent Sarah Carrigan.
Baer said he read the book, written by Hanover resident Picoult, and was appalled by the graphic sexual detail in one scene.
Picoult said her three children read the novel, her first to debut on the New York Times’ bestseller list, and she encouraged parents to read the books with their own children.
Watch video of the incident posted online by WMUR-TV: