A decorated member of the U.S. military says he may bring a lawsuit against school officials in Huntsville, Ala., after they complained to his military commanders when he objected to plans to require students, including his children, to spend $400 on uniforms.
“This case is not about me versus the school district,” wrote Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham, a 15-year Army veteran and military
blogger who was invited by President George W. Bush to the White
House for a historic sit-down meeting with a select gathering of
“It’s about parental rights and the limits of our educators in dealing with parental concerns, especially when those parents are in the military.”
But, he confirmed, “I am pursuing a lawsuit to clear my name and force the school system to admit they overstepped their bounds by denying my right to participate in my children’s education and attempt to ruin my career.”
Grisham now is the the cover story for “Off Duty,” an insert
included in the Military Times, the magazine for the Army, Air
Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
Grisham’s photo is overlaid with the headline: “The Rise and Fall of a Military Blogger – Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham didn’t mince words. His readers loved it. His command hated it.”
Grisham is in a new kind of fight after taking down a squad of Iraqis when his
counterintelligence detachment was pinned down in an ambush. He earned a Bronze Star with Valor after rushing through the gunfire
by himself with just a nine-millimeter pistol and a hand grenade.
Before signing off permanently from his blogsite “A Soldiers
Perspective,” Grisham told his 1,500-plus readers:
“In September, my kids brought home a note from their
school stating that the school would transition to uniforms
beginning in January – midway through the school year.
Naturally, this concerned me as the cost for each kid (I have
two who would be affected) would be at least $400. A note home
to parents assured us that the principal would entertain
concerns during the upcoming ‘uniform fashion
show.’ However, the principal ended that meeting
without answering a question, even though numerous hands were
up. After that meeting, I organized parents with concerns and
began a letter-writing and phone-calling campaign to members
of the school board and media. We succeeded in getting the
uniform issue tabled until next year. But parents still
weren’t given a voice about whether we even wanted
Instead of dealing with Grisham and other parents who disagreed
with her new policy, the school’s principal contacted the
Army, saying Grisham had threatened her, the blog reports.
“She pointed to posts on my personal blog about her behavior
at the meeting as proof. However, after being referred to
military investigators, they concluded that I had never issued
any threats through e-mail, blog or otherwise. I collected
letters from other parents attesting to my behavior at the
meeting,” Grisham wrote.
However, the Army took a dim view of the conflict.
“Suddenly, I was a troublemaker after 15 years of honorable service,” he wrote.
And that wasn’t the end of it.
“At a PTA meeting a few weeks later, I again tried to present
a motion to discuss the school-uniform issue with the members
of the association. It was shot down by the principal and the
PTA president. I was harassed the entire evening by school
security officials. Thankfully, I decided it would be prudent
to record that meeting. When school officials again began
contacting the Army about my supposedly threatening and
disrespectful behavior at the meeting, I published the video
on my blog to clear my name. This didn’t sit well with
school officials and only emboldened them to step up their
claims and use the military to force me to take down the
videos – the only piece of evidence I had to prove my
innocence,” he explained.
Attempts to obtain comment from the school were unsuccessful.
Grisham had at one time acknowledged on his blogsite and radio
program that he believed he was dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder, which the principal used to
bolster claims Grisham was a dangerous menace to her and
Grisham and his wife Emily removed their two children from the
school, he says, because they were harassed.
“Because of this situation, my wife and I felt the need to
relocate our kids after being singled out on more than one
occasion by teachers and school staff. We took our kids to
live with their grandparents until my orders allowed me to
relocate in December. That trip cost us over $1,400, plus
another $1,500 in maintenance on our elderly van, which
completely wiped out our savings.”
As a result, Grisham is asking for help with his lawsuit.
“I am reaching out through various avenues to help raise the
money. I’ve enlisted the help of local media, talk
shows and blogs to help me raise the money. Fellow milbloggers
are reaching into their pockets and tapping their readers as
well. My neighbors and local Huntsville citizens are donating
to a local fund at a bank where I’m stationed.”
He says, “While I have no problem asking for money to support
these efforts, I’ve always been very bashful about asking
for anything for myself. However, I feel like I must humble
myself and ask for help on my own behalf in this instance.”
Grisham also is in the process of relocating from Redstone Arsenal in
Huntsville, Ala., to Fort Hood, Texas, for the next stage of his