EDUCATION

At Alpine school board meeting, Natalie Cline claims district allows porn in classrooms

Sep 29, 2022, 3:29 PM | Updated: Sep 30, 2022, 9:20 am
cline alpine board...
Utah Board of Education member Natalie Cline takes the microphone at a meeting of the Alpine School District Board on Wednesday Sept. 29. (Screengrab/YouTube)
(Screengrab/YouTube)

ALPINE, Utah — A meeting of the Alpine School District Board became heated Tuesday night when State Board of Education member Natalie Cline stood up after the public comment period, demanded to comment, and objected to policies the board was reviewing about banning library books.

Some said that Cline violated the Alpine School Board’s meeting rules by using her position as a state school board member to demand to speak.

Utah State Board of Education Public Relations Manager Mark Peterson said they don’t have any rules around members attending or participating in local school board meetings.

“State school board members usually identify themselves via their position when speaking at community events or with outside groups,” Peterson told KSL NewsRadio in an email.

“It appears member Cline identified herself by her district and the meeting chair acknowledged that she did represent residents of the Alpine School District even if she does live in Herriman.”

What happened at the meeting

Cline raised her hand after the public comment period ended.  A district official said she didn’t reside in the district, but she took the podium anyway.

“My name is Natalie Cline and I am elected member of the state board of education,” she said before being interrupted by Alpine Board Member Ada Wilson, who was running the meeting.

“May I just say that you are speaking against the rules I read before,” said Wilson.

Wilson said earlier that public comment was reserved for people who lived in the district. Others, she said, could file written comments. Cline does not live in the district, but she does represent a small portion of people who are.

The recording of the meeting shows that, after being interrupted by Wilson, Cline again stated her title as a school board member and demanded that she be allowed to speak. Many in the crowd continued shouting support for Cline.

“I am a member of the State Board of Education,” she said. “My constituents live in this district and I’m here to represent them.”

Applause followed, and Cline was allowed to continue.

Following her comments, Wilson apologized to Cline saying she did not realize she represented people in the district.

Cline’s message

Cline began by saying that Alpine’s proposed library materials policy (Policy 6161) allowed “pornographic content to remain in the school, in violation of the law.”

“The bottom line is that Alpine’s proposed library materials policy is full of loopholes, subjectivity, strategic ambiguity,” she said.

Without naming the books allowed to remain in the schools, Cline alleged a substitute teacher was “blacklisted” for reporting questionable books and not allowed to sub again.

“Many of these books are championed by organizations like the UEA (Utah Education Association),  the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the American Library Association, and other woke activists who claim that these books are somehow necessary for kids to — quote– see themselves,” Cline said.

She also stated her interpretation of recent guidance from the Utah Attorney General’s office to the Utah State Board of Education on Utah’s new law banning sensitive materials in schools.  In a memo to the state school board citing statutes and case law, that memo instructs that materials subject for review as questionable “be taken on the whole.”

Cline argued that the “taken on the whole concept” should only be “secondary to the primary imperative to remove materials that on their face are clear and obvious examples of pornography.”

Cline ended her remarks by outlining the negative effects of pornography on children.

“There is no such thing as age-appropriate when it comes to pornography,” she said.

In a vote later Tuesday night, the Alpine School Board approved the discussed model library policy.  In a statement, the Alpine School District said they are working to implement their sensitive materials policy as they follow state law.

“It is our priority that schools and classrooms have age-appropriate learning materials that engage all students,” it read.

One lawmaker’s similar experience

Democratic state Senator Kathleen Riebe told KSL NewsRadio that she watched the meeting and thought Cline was in violation of Alpine’s clearly stated rules.

“I’m a little surprised that she stated that because she’s a school board member, she had more of an obligation to speak,” Riebe said.

[Cline] was speaking as an individual, and sharing her individual thoughts, so she should not have been using the platform of a school board member to gain special treatment.”

A very similar situation happened to Riebe, she said, in May of 2020.  She wanted to thank educators in multiple districts for the tough work of policy-making during the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially the mask mandate rules.

Riebe lives in the Canyons School District and was allowed to speak there after providing an address. But that night, she went to the Granite School District’s meeting. She says she had signed up prior to the meeting and was also allowed to speak there.

The Murray District told her their bylaws didn’t allow for non-residents to speak. Riebe pushed back. She was an elected official, she said, and wanted to speak to fellow local elected officials.

The district told her, again, that she couldn’t speak.

“And I agreed,” Riebe said. “Because I believe in the bylaws and the policies and I wanted to support my local elected officials.”

Riebe says that what happened at the Apline meeting shouldn’t have happened.

“This is not proper civic engagement, this is trying to usurp the rules, hijack meetings, and intimidation,” she said.

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At Alpine school board meeting, Natalie Cline claims district allows porn in classrooms