David Parker, parent of kindergartner, stands before Judge Robert McKenna in Concord District Court April 28 after spending the night in jail (Photo: Article 8 Alliance)
A Massachusetts district attorney dropped its case today against a father arrested while attempting to secure a promise from school officials to notify parents before teaching about homosexuality in his son’s kindergarten class.
David Parker, who faced criminal prosecution by the town of Lexington, spent a night in jail in April and was charged with criminal trespassing after refusing to leave a scheduled meeting with officials at the Estabrook Elementary School.
But Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley informed the court this morning her office decided not to pursue the criminal trespassing charge, reports Article 8 Alliance, a Massachusetts group battling same-sex marriage.
The jury trial had been scheduled to begin this morning in Concord District Court.
Judge Robert McKenna used a relatively unusual procedure to order the case delayed into administrative limbo, and it will be dropped completely after one year.
Parker has made no admission of guilt and the full presumption of his innocence officially continues, according to Article 8.
Parker’s lead attorney, Jeffrey Denner, said the procedure is different from the much more commonly used “continued without a finding,” in which a defendant admits sufficient facts exist to warrant a conviction and the case eventually is dropped.
“I would have loved to defend this case,” said Denner. “But this resolution is far too good to pass up. It’s a great result. The DA chose not to prosecute. There is no admission of guilt and no presumption of guilt.”
Procedurally, Parker has been placed on “pre-trial probation” for one year, in which he promises to “obey all lawful orders” and pay a $50 fee.
There are other possible restrictions, but Parker’s lawyers likely will get involved if the state makes any “unreasonable” demands, Article 8 said.
But the criminal trespass case has no legal connection to the ban that Lexington School Superintendent Paul Ash continues to impose against Parker, which keeps him from all school property in the town.
The ban is a source of contention among Parker’s supporters, who see it as a punitive act of intimidation, since Parker has never demonstrated himself to be a danger to anyone, Article 8 says.
At the hearing this morning, a group of homosexual-rights activists gathered with signs to demonstrate against Parker.
The dispute began last spring when Parker’s then-5-year-old son brought home a book to be shared with his parents titled, “Who’s in a Family?” The optional reading material, which came in a “Diversity Book Bag,” depicted at least two households led by homosexual partners.
David Parker’s son brought home the book ‘Who’s in a Family?’ in school’s ‘Diversity Book Bag’ (Image: Article 8 Alliance)
The illustrated book says, “A family can be made up in many different ways” and includes this text:
“Laura and Kyle live with their two moms, Joyce and Emily, and a poodle named Daisy. It takes all four of them to give Daisy her bath.”
Another illustrated page says:
“Robin’s family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad’s partner, Henry, and Robin’s cat, Sassy. Clifford and Henry take turns making dinner for their family.”
Parker complained to school officials, and at a scheduled meeting at Estabrook Elementary School April 27 with the principal and the town’s director of education, he was told an agreement could be reached.
But after the superintendent intervened via telephone, Parker abruptly was told that unless he left the meeting he would be arrested.
Parker insisted that an agreement be reached before he left, and school officials called police, who handcuffed him and brought him to jail, where he spent the night.