By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — A parent who was charged with three counts of disorderly conduct after protesting the school district choice of mandatory reading material at a School Board in 2014 has filed a federal suit against the First Student Bus Company and Superintendent Kent Hemingway for allegedly violating state and federal wiretapping laws.
The suit says William Baer is the father of two children who attend Gilford High School who he claims were audiotaped while on a school bus owned by First Student which is under contract by the school district to transport students back and forth to school.
Baer said his children have been riding the same bus "#3" since 2013 and regularly engage in conversation during their rides.
He said neither child consented to being audiotaped and were unaware this was happening until one of them was summoned to the principal's office in January for a incident on the bus. During the conversation, he said the principal referred to the audiotape.
When the child referenced the student handbook, he realized it stated that all buses "shall be posted" with a sign indicating the people aboard it are being audiotaped.
The suit said Baer's students examined bus #3 as well as "a number" of other buses provided to the school district by First Student and learned that most of them did not have the required posting. They also said they had never noticed any posting in their bus since they began riding it in 2013.
In his suit, Baer noted that bus #3 has since posted the requisite warning signs.
Hemingway is being cited because of his role as the overseer of the Gilford School District.
William Baer was involved last year in a court case over his right to free speech at a school board meeting. He was arrested for disrupting the meeting, but the 4th Circuit Court decided Baer, while rude, was not breaking any laws.
Baer also later filed a federal suit against the police lieutenant who arrested him but the court determined the lieutenant was immune from suit.
First Student and Hemingway have not responded to the complaint.
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